Cricketers constantly say they pay no heed to records and personal milestones. They just focus on playing the game and that the numbers stack up along the way. But when your class has been repeatedly doubted and your ability put under scrutiny, the best way to answer is with performances. So if Gautam Gambhir knew that he had 964 runs under his belt for the year and was within kissing distance of the magic four-figure mark, it was only understandable.
The transformation in Gambhir from a flashy yet loose batsman to a run-machine as reliable as the other short left-handed opening bat, Justin Langer, has been an amazing one. 2008 has been a year to remember for India, barring the Test series in Sri Lanka, and even there, Gambhir succeeded. He has often been overshadowed by the bigger names and more glamourous performances, but Gambhir's contribution in India's success should not be underestimated.
"For this year, I have to give a lot of credit to Gary Kirsten and Paddy Upton because they worked a lot on me. I really have to thank them because of the amount they supported me, the amount of work they did on me," said Gambhir at the end of the day's play. "It's really coming good for me. Every run I scored this year has been very special for me."
This century was Gambhir's second in as many matches at a venue he naturally called "special" and Gambhir rated this knock higher than his 104 against Australia. "This hundred is very special because the ball was doing a bit and they were really coming hard at us in the morning. Against Australia, I got the hundred in the second innings, and we ended up winning the match," explained Gambhir. "But this was very special because first day of the Test match, and the pitch had something for the bowlers. I think losing an early wicket and then scoring a hundred, this is very special. We needed a big partnership and luckily, it happened."
Having done all the hard work and made it count, Gambhir has set his sights on moving into the next gear on Saturday. "There should be only one mindset, that is to go out and win this match, rather than being defensive. We're already 1-0 up and we really want to go out and win the series 2-0. If we are defensive, it could backfire," said Gambhir. "We should be very positive over the next four days rather than think of anything else. The only thing on our mind is to win this match and get to No. 2 in the ICC rankings."