October 14, 1981, Delhi
Left hand Bat
Top order Batter
India's Gautam Gambhir was one of the most complete batters in the game between 2008 and the 2011 World Cup, opening successfully in all three forms. He could be more aggressive than Virender Sehwag, played the kind of back-to-the-wall innings that would do Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman proud, and accumulated without taking many risks, much like Sachin Tendulkar did in the last quarter of his career. Either side of that period, though, Gambhir's technical flaws dominated his other attributes. Still, with over 10,000 runs in international cricket, and two significant innings in World Cup finals - not to mention leading Kolkata Knight Riders to two IPL titles - Gambhir was a significant contributor to Indian cricket.
For about the first eight years of his career, he was the domestic cheque that would not be honoured at international level. While bowlers on the Ranji circuit swore by his abilities, he had only two international centuries to show after 32 matches when he was left out of the 2007 World Cup party.
He came back with massive runs in domestic cricket, a few important technical adjustments, and with the reputation of being the best player of spin in India outside of the international side. A century in his second ODI back and a title-winning 75 in the inaugural T20 World Cup paved the way for his Test return. Test fifties against Muthiah Muralidaran and Ajantha Mendis in 2008 told him he belonged.
Between October 2008 and February 2010, he scored eight centuries - to set up wins, to bat teams out, and to hold on for draws, including a near 11-hour marathon in Napier. In this period, he also managed half-centuries or more in 11 successive Tests, equalling Viv Richards. The Arjuna award, India's second-highest sporting honour, came his way, the ICC named him the Test player of 2009, and more tellingly perhaps, Sehwag called him the best Indian Test opener since Sunil Gavaskar.
Gambhir scored a match-winning 97 in the 2011 World Cup final. After that tournament, though, began a more serious, almost terminal decline. In England and Australia, where India lost eight Tests in a row, he was a walking wicket, poking at deliveries outside off. From being a captaincy candidate at one time, he went to struggling to keep his place in the side.
With the arrivals of M Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan, Gambhir was sidelined until the England tour in 2014, when he was called up as back-up opener. But his return after more than a year out of international cricket ended on a sour note when he was dropped after two Tests. He was on firmer ground in the IPL - having been a mainstay at Delhi Daredevils and then going to Knight Riders for a record US$2.4 million in the 2011 auction. He top-scored for that team in four seasons, including during their first title win in 2012.
Gambhir retired from all cricket in 2018. He received the Padma Shri, India's second-highest civilian honour, and became a member of Parliament a year later, but continued his association with the game, as a commentator.
Batting & Fielding