Child-man Gambhir finally comes of age | india | Hindustan Times
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Child-man Gambhir finally comes of age

He's gone from being the gifted kid who never quite knew what to do with all that embryonic talent and flirted with being yet another lost footnote in India's cricketing chronicles, to a composed man and player on the threshold of a career that could one day be called great, writes Kadambari Murali Wade.

india Updated: Apr 10, 2009 00:57 IST

There's this soft drink ad that Gautam Gambhir stars in all by himself and it's interesting viewing to anyone who knows anything about him.

Why? Well, first, it's got him grinning. Two, it has him playing a very sociable guy who can't bear the fact that the little restaurant he's dropped in to, to catch a match on TV, is empty. And three, heck — Gautam's actually looking comfortable acting and doing the commercial!

Gambhir, the child-man with the sweet, shy smile, is not given to monkeying around. He doesn't really grin a lot (or manically grin in any case like some of his other cricketing pals), is not built in the Yuvraj-Harbhajan-life-is-a-highway mode and will probably prefer his close circle of friends to that of a large, noisy group of strangers.

He is unlikely to make the first overture — he's the guy who would sit back and keep his own counsel.

And despite him being from the school that typifies the rich Delhi-Punjabi brash young kid stereotype, Modern School, and a college (Hindu College) that continued in much the same vein, despite him having a side that is unsubtly aggressive, and being a person who knows what he wants and does his damnedest to get it, Gambhir has yet been a mass of insecurities.

He has often fought his inner demons and lost, often been frustrated with his world and the people who populated it, often been tempted to throw in the towel and walk away from it all. In a chat just before he left for New Zealand, he said as much. “It hurt too much, too often,” he said. “I didn't know if I could cope.”

But he did. And how. New Zealand may have changed the Gambhir we've known and wondered over forever.

It's been fascinating watching the metamorphosis of Gambhir this past year.

He's gone from being the gifted kid who never quite knew what to do with all that embryonic talent and flirted with being yet another lost footnote in India's cricketing chronicles, to a composed man and player on the threshold of a career that could one day be called great.

The change has been so sudden it's been stunning. It's rare that one sees a player who slams the ball with the timing and utter disdain he does in T20 cricket become a man who smoothly racks up the runs in 50-over mode and then transmogrify, seemingly at will, into a player who can grind with the best of them in whites. Yet, that's Gambhir for you, Mr. Contradictory.

But while this year and the changes it's wrought in him has been fascinating, what will be even more so is the next and those thereafter: to see whether the angry young man who we once thought would throw it all away will be able to keep his peace with himself and his world and redefine ours.