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I have been fighting for everything at every step: Gautam Gambhir

Gautam Gambhir will play his last competitive game from Thursday, a Ranji tie against Andhra, and a Man of the Match souvenir would be most welcome.

cricket Updated: Dec 06, 2018 11:02 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Gautam Gambhir,Gambhir,Ranji Trophy
File image of India cricketer Gautam Gambhir.(Getty Images)

In his newly renovated family home, where he is about to move in after a gap of about two years, Gautam Gambhir has reserved an entire wall of a large hall for trophies and honours that he has gathered in his career spanning 15 years of international, 20 years of first-class and 25 years of all cricket.

Arjuna Award, the national award, finds pride of place along with the ICC, Man-of-the-Match and Man-of-the-Series and other awards.Gambhir will play his last competitive game from Thursday, a Ranji tie against Andhra, and a Man of the Match souvenir would be most welcome. On the eve of it, the left-handed batsman spoke to Hindustan Times in a free-wheeling chat.

How would you like to be remembered?

As an honest and committed man because these qualities are more important than numbers. What I stood for and the commitment I played with. I never played for numbers, for 10,000 or 15000 runs, but only for commitment and stood for what was right. I can keep my head high and say I fought and stood for the right people and things.

What made you a streetfighter...

I had to fight for everything right from childhood, from 12 years of age when I went for U-14 trials at School Games and was rejected. It has been 25 years since and I have been fighting for everything at every step.

You draw your aggression from initial desire to be in the Army

I still believe despite whatever I have achieved, I would have been better off in the Army. That remains my first love. That is the kind of attitude I have. I made it to NDA and Ranji the same year but since I was close to India team as that was the next thing after Ranji, I picked it after people around me insisted. But the trait and love for Army remains.

What made you quit?

Runs are like money, depends on how you use them. I wanted to score to get into India team. When I couldn’t, I decided my time was up.

Any regrets

You always have regrets that you could have played more, especially two years back when I scored about 500 in two successive IPL seasons. But you look at others who want to play just one game for India and you realise, you got so many opportunities. All those who have played for a substantial period, like Yuvraj, Harbhajan and Zaheer, got to play two (50-over) World Cups. I got just one and I am happy I helped India win the final (Man of the Match in 2011 final). Also, except for England, I got to tour overseas nations just once. With one tour you only acclimatise. People judge me but don’t realise I’ve been to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and West Indies just once. We managed to win in New Zealand and that (winning Test series abroad), besides winning a 50-over World Cup, was my childhood dream.

After your success as captain in IPL with KKR, did you fancy India captaincy?

MS was doing a great job back then but, yeah, everyone dreams of becoming India captain, especially Tests. But it wasn’t my ultimate ambition. Captaincy is a byproduct of your game.

On Kohli

I admire his batting, the way he is scoring runs. He is the key to India’s chances in the World Cup. He is a fantastic batsman.

Any advise to Virat Kohli as senior pro and successful captain

I don’t want to advise anybody but leadership is different from captaincy. Aggression suits him, let him do that within rules. If it doesn’t suit Rahane or Rohit, let them be the way they are. Leadership is not about making people the way you are but finding out how the other 14 want to play and carry them along as well. There are different ways of being aggressive; people who show emotions, people who don’t. You don’t expect Pujara to be as expressive but he won’t be less aggressive. He’ll be fighting till the last drop of blood. Those guys are important, who don’t show emotions and are willing to fight. Another leadership quality is to give others security. At any stage of professional sportsmen’s career, there’ll be insecurity because there’ll be people waiting in the wings. One failure can shatter him, panic him, change his personality. He’ll doubt himself, go into depression or into shell. As a leader you need to give them security as brother, friend or father figure. Captains are on the cricket field, leaders are off the field too. Security can help players and you bigger goals.

Are you thinking of going into politics or commentary

Can’t say. At the moment, I am focussing on tomorrow’s game against Andhra. People say that I want to get into politics. They can say. I accompanied Arun Jaitley for campaigning because of my personal rapport of 25 years. I speak on social media because I am a taxpayer and I have a right to question the question for a secure future for the coming generations. Everyone should question the government. It is everyone’s right.

What food have you missed all these days?

Butter chicken and ‘daal makhni’ because of my fitness regimen. I’ll go all out on it for a while after the next game. But the sport has got me into a mode where I am forced to work on my fitness. It has become a habit. So, sooner or later, I’ll have to get back to it

First Published: Dec 06, 2018 08:33 IST