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Gambhir refuses to be written off

The Delhi player says his over aggression cost him a place in the squad and he is now sorting out this weakness.

india Updated: May 05, 2006 17:53 IST

Gautam Gambhir says it was over aggression which cost him a place in the Indian squad and he was now sorting out this weakness to stake a claim for a berth in the Test squad for the series against West Indies.

Refusing to be written off as a failure, the 24-year-old left-hander believes there is no technical flaw in his batting as pointed out by some critics, which appears to be a rightful claim given the 6,145 runs he has piled up in first-class cricket so far.

The problem, he says, is probably in the mind as he suffers from loss of concentration at times and takes his game too seriously — although not completely without reason.

"I got a break into the national team pretty late. I had scored 5,000 runs in domestic cricket already when I got my first break. If you get something the hard way, you are bound to cherish and take it very seriously," the batsman told PTI in an exclusive interview.

It is ironical that Gambhir, who made his international debut in 2003 during the one-day series against Bangladesh, should pay the price for a trait which brought him into limelight.

It was his aggressive strokeplay at the top of the order for Delhi that first caught the attention of the selectors, with many even suggesting that Gambhir was more attacking than his state team-mate and star India batsman Virender Sehwag.

However, Gambhir has now realised that aggression pays only when unleashed in the right measure. 

But Gambhir denies he tries to copy Sehwag, brandishing his bat at the other end.

"I have never tried to compare myself with Sehwag. I concentrate on my own natural game and try to remain positive.

"In one-dayers I concede I have made mistakes but Tests have never been a problem. I have got good starts, I have two 98's in Tests and if I had converted them into 100s, I would have had 3 centuries from 13 matches which is not bad at all.

"In first-class games I have 20 centuries other than eight or nine scores in 90's. If I had a technical flaw, I would not have scored all these runs.

"It is said it is most difficult to score your first 20-25 runs. I wouldn't be getting the starts if I had a problem there."

But why is that Gambhir has failed to replicate his regal domestic form on the international stage?

"It is more to do with the mind. I just need to be judicious in my shot selection. I have identified the problem and realised what I ought to do to be in the squad."

Gambhir, who has managed 409 runs from 16 ODIs at an average of 25.56, denies he is unnerved by the pressure of playing on the big stage.

"International cricket is all about pressure, if you can't handle the pressure, you have no business being here."

There have been stinging criticisms about his temperament but Gambhir says he tries not to get bogged down by these.

"At this level, you have got to be mentally tough. At the end of the day, you have got to be good enough to be playing for the country. If I make mistakes, there will be criticism." 

"I try and avoid it (criticism) if it is not fair. No batsman is perfect. I would rather know my strength than drool over my weakness."

Now that he is out of favour with the selectors, having been ignored for the one-day series against West Indies, does he think it will be tough to make a comeback?

"In the end everything boils down to making runs. I am positive that if I can get some big runs, I will be called to the side."

Gambhir, who has made 684 runs in 13 Tests at an average of 36, says he was taken by surprise when he was not picked for the Test series against England in March this year.

"Frankly, I was not expecting it when I was dropped for the Test series against England. I had some decent scores with the A side and had done well overall.

"I am confident though that I will be considered for the four-match Test series against West Indies," said the batsman who top-scored with 87 only this week in the final of Sheeshmahal tournament in Lucknow.

"I am working hard in the nets and sorting out my batting to earn a recall in the team," said Gambhir who would be in direct contention with Mumbai batsman Wasim Jaffer for the second opener's slot.

Has the team management kept in touch with him all these days when he has been out of the squad?

"Not really. But they have been very supportive, they have given me a lot of encouragement. Chappell Sir is a great man. He has made me realise what my abilities are. He has been a great pillar of strength for me."