CRICKET Gautam Gambhir shares the IPL experience with VIJAY LOKAPALLY
The Indian Premier League over, Delhi boy Gautam Gambhir has his task cut out. Go and score runs in Bangladesh and Pakistan. The fond memories of the IPL, however, will linger for a while. This dashing left-hander plundered 534 runs in 14 matches and left a mark on the spectators with his clinical strokeplay. At the end of the tournament he had created a huge fan base for himself.
“It was a great experience,” he confessed while packing his bags to leave for Dhaka. “We had a wonderful time (44 days) and we had got used to it. A lot of travelling, a lot of cricket, lots of fun. It was something very different from what we normally experience. The pitches were great and the matches highly competitive.”
Gambhir was among the few to make a big impact on the tournament. The IPL had become a habit with the Delhiites and Gambhir was no exception. For youngsters Pradeep Sangwan and Virat Kohli, it was a platform that propelled them into the big league. To share the dressing room with some legends and play against a few came their way most unexpectedly. “I was thrilled to be part of a line-up where Rahul (Dravid) and Anil (Kumble) shared their experience with us. I can never forget the time I spent with them and learnt quite a few things,” gushed Virat Kohli, the India under-19 captain and a member of the Bangalore Royal Challengers.
Sangwan, who made his first-class debut in 2007-08, grabbed the opportunity to graduate in terms of recognition at the higher level. “I am lucky to have bowled alongside Glenn McGrath,” said the left-arm pacer, now picked to fine tune his bowling at Brisbane as winner of the Border-Gavaskar scholarship.
Gambhir, eying a Test slot following a fabulous domestic season in which he guided Delhi to the Ranji Trophy title with centuries in the semifinal and the final, was happy for the likes of Sangwan and Kohli. “It was an ideal platform for them to show their talent and skills. When you get 14 matches you have to make the best of them and both must have learnt so much. Virat had made an impact at the under-19 level and Pradeep has shown tremendous potential as a bowler who can improve his pace. All thanks to the IPL,” said Gambhir.
The Delhi Daredevils attracted a near-full house for every match. “The crowd response was amazing. It went a long way in motivating us,” conceded Virender Sehwag, who also praised some of the youngsters who came into limelight, including Sangwan, Kohli, Swapnil Asnodkar, Ashok Dinda and Srivats Goswami.
McGrath, according to Gambhir, was the most popular in the Delhi dressing room. “He was always encouraging and always helping the youngsters. He is such a terrific bowler to the left-handers and I interacted on how to tackle bowlers like him.”
The T20 format is said to be very unpredictable but Gambhir was a very predictable success with the bat. “It made some of us better players.”