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Gautam Gambhir will never give up

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Gautam_Gambhir_India_cricket.jpgIt would be fascinating to delve inside the mind of Gautam Gambhir, especially in the present scenario. Having been overlooked for India’s squad for the upcoming Champions Trophy in England, one wonders how the gritty batsman must be coping with the disappointment while trying to maintain his focus on leading his team, the Kolkata Knight Riders, at the intense, business end of the current IPL season.

The left-handed opener, an integral part of India’s famous triumphs at the 2007 World T20 and 2011 World Cup, hasn’t been in reckoning for the national team for some time now. And yet, the 35 year-old has displayed remarkable grit and gumption these past few years to stake his comeback.

Yes, he did make a brief return in the final match of the three-Test series against New Zealand last year but was dropped soon after as the young KL Rahul – in place of whom Gambhir was picked – recovered from his injury.

Many armchair critics have pointed out now that the chance of Gambhir staging a comeback looks remote, given his age and the competition for his spot. But Gambhir, despite the overwhelming odds against him, is carrying on regardless.

Most men of his age and in his position would have given up by now. After all, he has had a very prosperous stint in the IPL and is likely to be in demand for a few more seasons to come. But for Gambhir, playing for the nation means everything. One can be rest assured that he will keep battling to regain his lost place until he can play no longer. And he will do so without complaining and with immense fortitude.

That is what sets Gambhir apart, refreshingly so. He doesn’t grumble. He doesn’t keep reminding people of his past laurels for the country. He simply refuses to give up. Whether or not Gambhir manages to make a permanent comeback to the team is a discussion for another day. What must be appreciated and comprehended, instead, is how the fiery sportsman is teaching us the art of never giving up.

Of unfailing spirit and dogged determination

Make no mistake, Gautam Gambhir must be incredibly disappointed. And he must be hurting badly. He has been quite consistent with the bat in all formats this past year and has regularly outscored Shikhar Dhawan – the opener who has been chosen overhim in the Champions Trophy squad – in all the domestic tournaments.

He was the third highest scorer in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy with 121 runs in 4 matches and was the fourth highest scorer in the Duleep Trophy with 356 runs in 3 matches. Although his performance in the Ranji Trophy last season was moderate, it was still better than Dhawan’s.

What’s more, he has been ruling the IPL with aplomb. While he was the fourth-highest scorer of IPL 2016 with 501 runs in 15 matches, he has already plundered 433 runs in 13 matches in the current IPL and is the fourth-highest scorer of the season.

In fact, Gambhir’s performance in the IPL has been nothing short of a revelation. With more than 4000 runs, Gambhir has been one of the most consistent performers of the league. As a captain of the Kolkata team, has been the prime example of a captain who always leads from the front.

Another great attribute of Gambhir is how he has maintained himself at present. Even at 35 years of age he is lean and fit and always appears to be raring to go. At the same time, you can see, in the IPL itself, how some of India’s previous generation of superstars have put on weight and seem lethargic and uninspired. Quite a few from that lot who are still active have resigned to their fates and appear contented with a few weeks of IPL time.

This, by no means, is being said to disrespect those players. But Gambhir’s indomitable spirit has been rather inspiring. His appetite for scoring runs is insatiable and so is his drive for never giving up.

After the squad for the Champions Trophy was announced, Gambhir tweeted this quote from the legendary boxer Mohammad Ali: “I am grateful for all my victories, but I am especially grateful for my losses because they only made me work harder.”

Not that this wasn’t already apparent, but it just tells us that Gambhir isn’t done yet. Not by a long shot.

Scripting an inspirational story

Although this has been oft-repeated, but it is worth stressing once again that Gautam Gambhir has been instrumental in some of India’s finest moments in the last decade. The 97 against Sri Lanka in the World Cup 2011 final; the 75 against Pakistan in the 2007 World T20 final; the 137 off 436 balls against New Zealand at Napier; time and again Gambhir has proven to be India’s crisis man at the most momentous stages.

Some misfortune and some bad form at the wrong time caused his exit from the Indian team. The subsequent rise of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Murali Vijay and K.L Rahul as the new openers meant that the task of reclaiming his spot in the team became very difficult. And that is fine. Every sportsperson has to go through the ups and downs. Some rise from it, many don’t. But Gautam Gambhir is scripting a rather unique story; his tale is not one of a comeback but of maintaining the passion and tenacity for it despite insurmountable odds.

So whether or not Gambhir stages a heroic return is beside the point. The fact that he is fighting it out for what is his singular goal so relentlessly serves an enlightening lesson that should be remembered for a long time to come.

 

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