As India discard Gautam Gambhir was pulling the bouncers dished out by the Sunrisers Hyderabad bowlers on Saturday, he was also reminding all and sundry that he is not a spent force. The fire that made him one of the best opening batsmen for India is still burning bright.
The Gambhir-2 that we are currently witnessing, is hungrier, meaner and looks more consistent. Indian cricket’s power corridors are abuzz with one question: how has a guy who till a few months back was labelled as a walking wicket, is at the topping the run-charts in early stages of IPL, 2016? Before the game against Kings XI Punjab on Tuesday, Gambhir had totalled 192 from three games this season.
TOI set out to search for the reasons for this transformation. On the onset, the answer lies with Gambhir’s willingness to introspect. It is learnt that he admitted that there were flaws in his technique as there was pattern of caught behind and LBW dismissals. Besides, with each passing day, week and month spent out of the Indian dressing room, the Delhi cricketer was getting more and more desperate.
He usually shuns any comeback talk but it is an open secret that any former Test cricketer who is going through the grind of domestic cricket is not doing for his state side alone. There is a bigger goal of making a comeback in India colours.
So it was decided: Cricket, body and mind, these were three areas he had to work on. For cricket he visited former Australia opening batsman Justin Langer in Perth, for body and mind he sought help closer home through a trainer and yoga instructor. After the 2015 IPL season, Gambhir was in Perth in search of solutions for his batting woes. There his batting was dismantled bit by bit and then reconstructed. The new Gambhir that came out then, was batting with an open stance and playing brilliantly off the back-foot. So much so that his pull and hook shots improved immensely. He was also sighting the ball better. With this new set-up there was less chances of getting out leg before or caught behind but at the same time, his stroke-play down the ground was being restricted.
It was in the last season of Ranji Trophy that he used his new technique. He began with two scores of 90-odd but things fell away post that. “Gambhir is very determined to do well. He is enjoying his game and his mindset is good. He wants to make the most of the opportunity he gets from here on.” Delhi’s coach, Vijay Dahiya, who was also KKR’s assistant coach, told TOI.
Once the domestic season was over Gambhir reassessed his stock and realised that the upcoming IPL was his best opportunity reclaim his position in the Indian team. Thus work started on the other two sides of his game – body and mind. He engaged the services of Delhi Ranji team’s physical trainer Nishant Bordoloi. Gambhir installed a state-of the-art gym at his Delhi home where hours and hours of training with Bordoloi, himself an ex-first-class cricketer from Assam, shaped him for the rigours of the coming season. The trainer and Gambhir use to alternate their gym training with strength and agility work through sprints in the outdoors. Gambhir also did yoga and meditation sessions to keep his mind and body afresh.
Even former Indian selector Kiran More agreed to throw his back into the India team contention if Gambhir continues to bat like this. “It would be a nice idea to bring in back into the thick of things. Age is not a criteria for a selection into any team. If he is good, he should be playing for the country,” More added.