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Little man stands tall for India

cricket Updated: Apr 03, 2011 02:58 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Hindustan Times
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Gautam Gambhir was not even two years old when Kapil Dev led India to the World Cup in 1983 and trigger a new passion for the game in India. After Saturday, Gambhir will have abiding memories of the new triumph, and his name will be embedded in the hearts of a billion fans for ending a 28-year wait.

Indian cricket has experienced many high points in the last few years. Climbing to the No. 1 ranking in Test cricket, the world T20 title in 2007 and ripping apart Australia's status as invincibles - there were quite a few achievements to go; but there was one big and significant void.

Following the most momentous day of Gambhir's eight-year international career, that wait has ended. India in the World Cup meant heartbreaks for their fans since the day they lost the 1987 semi-final against England.

Appropriately, Gambhir chose the right place to end the jinx.

It was at the Wankhede Stadium 24 years ago that a dream was shattered, by England. When the World Cup revisited this home venue of Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar, another little master in the making rose to the occasion.

Gambhir too is a diminutive man who rose to the occasion with determination and focus. The Indian chase was looking wobbly following the fall of Sehwag and Tendulkar and from the first ball he faced, Gambhir gave the impression he was out there to grab this chance to cement his place in one of the most glorious pages in the history of Indian cricket.

Realising the need of the hour and cutting the characteristic frills of his batting, Gambhir was a picture of head down and bat straight in the beginning, knowing that spending time in the middle was the best way to revive Indian hopes. After doing that, he went on to play one of the best anchor roles in the history of World Cup finals.

A rush of blood denied him a shot at bigger glory that could have come in the form of a century but he had put his team on course before that happened.

Not the perfect end from a personal perspective, but one that Gambhir wouldn't mind.