Gautam Gambhir who announced his retirement from all forms of cricket on December 4 was for long one of the batting mainstays of India. The aggressive left-handed opener along with his longtime friend Virender Sehwag formed one of the most feared opening combinations in the world in their heyday.
While he was popular for his aggressive style of batting, the Delhi batsman also showed his value at the Test level in equal measure producing innings full of grit and flair as and when the situation demanded. In this article, we take a look at five of the southpaw's greatest international innings. Here is a glimpse:
1) 75 vs Pakistan, ICC T20 World Cup 2007 Final
The moment that launched Indian cricket onto a whole another level. The match that formed the bedrock for the hugely successful IPL that came into being just months after the inaugural World T20. Pitted against arch-rivals Pakistan in the final of a World Cup in which no one had given them any chance India found themselves in trouble with the loss of key wickets of Sehwag, Robin Uthappa and Yuvraj Singh while batting first. But Gambhir had other ideas as he held his side's innings together with a stroke-filled 75(54) and played the biggest role in setting up what turned out to be a match-winning total at the end.
2) 97 vs Sri Lanka, ICC ODI World Cup 2011 Final
Playing an instrumental role in the final of a World Cup is enough for most batsmen. But Gambhir did it twice and it's a tragedy that most people tend to forget his role in both the finals while remembering more popular images. With India in trouble having lost Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar in quick succession, Gambhir played inarguably his greatest ODI innings. At first, he stitched a crucial partnership with Virat Kohli wherein he curbed his strokes and focussed on rotating the strike. After Kohli departed, the southpaw found an able ally in the captain MS Dhoni along with whom he almost took India to the trophy before he was dismissed just three shy of a well deserved century.
3) 137 vs New Zealand, 2nd Test 2009
No doubt Gambhir was not just India's but one of the world's premier batsman during the period 2007-11 during which he was also adjudged the ICC Test player of the year in 2009. The match-saving knock of 137 in Napier is a testimony to such accolades. The particular innings is one of the greatest played by an Indian batsman for several reasons: India were trying to save the match after being forced to follow on and the innings lasted almost 11 hours spread across two days and 436 deliveries. Even Rahul Dravid would be proud of such efforts.
4) 206 vs Australia, 3rd test 2008
This remains Gambhir's highest score in international cricket and also his only double century in Tests. Though the match ended in a draw, the knock catapulted the batsman to new heights in Indian cricket and he secured his place in the Test side for at least the near future. The match was a run-fest and both sides piled on the runs but we got to see Gambhir batting in full flow with his square drives and flick of the pads being a regular feature.
5) 167 vs New Zealand, 3rd Test 2009
The India tour of New Zealand in 2009 was a historic one as the visitors won a rare Test series in the island nation after a number of unsuccessful attempts over the years. That two of the three Tests feature mammoth innings from Gautam should prove how instrumental he was in India's success on that tour. The rest of the Indian batting played around their anchor in Gambhir who on the other hand was happily accumulating the runs while the others played their strokes. It wouldn't be too far-fetched to say that the winter of 2009 was the summer of Gambhir's career.