Gautam Gambhir announces retirement: How this Indian opener mastered Test cricket

New Delhi: Veteran Indian opener Gautam Gambhir, who played a pivotal role in India’s two World Cup triumphs, Tuesday announced retirement from cricket, saying the “irritable noise of ‘It’s over Gauti'” has triumphed over his will to continue.

The 37-year-old, in a video message on his social media pages, said the Ranji Trophy game against Andhra Pradesh starting Thursday will be his last competitive match.

The aggressive opener was India’s top-scorer in the finals of the 2007 World T20 in South Africa and the 2011 ODI World Cup, both of which the country won.

“The next Ranji Trophy game against Andhra will be my last day in the sun. It is coming to an end where it all started at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground,” Gambhir said in the more than 11-minute long video post.

Gambhir, one of the most successful batsmen for India, has been out of favour with the national team for a while now after a dip in form and last played a Test back in 2016 against England.

“The thought has been with me day and night. It has travelled with me on flights like an irritable excess baggage, it has accompanied me to practice sessions, mocking at me like a menacing bowler. On certain other days, it has made my dinner taste horrible,” Gambhir said, elaborating on his thought process leading up to Tuesday’s decision.

Gambhir made 58 Test appearances for India, accumulating 4154 runs at an average of 41.95. His 147 ODI games fetched 5238 runs, while in 37 T20 Internationals, he scored 932 runs.

Among the best Test openers for India

Gambhir scored 4154 runs in Test cricket at an average of 41.95, including nine hundreds. His average away(43.61 in 24 Tests) was better than his average in India (40.73 in 34 Tests).

He averaged 89 in New Zealand (in 3 Tests) and 60.50 in South Africa (in 2 Tests). Among the major Test nations, he had the best record against New Zealand – 749 runs in 9 Tests at an average of 53.50.

He reached his peak in 2008 and 2009 when he averaged 70.87 (in 8 Tests) and 90.87 in 5 Tests respectively. During this period (July 2008 to January 2010), he was the leading run-scorer in the world with 2068 runs in 15 Tests. His average of 76.59 was also the highest in this time-frame. Eight of his nine hundreds came in this period. No one faced more deliveries (3891) or spent more time at the crease (5557 minutes) in Test cricket than Gambhir did in this period.

He registered his highest score – 206 (only double ton of his career) – against Australia in Delhi in October, 2008.

His other significant knocks include a second-innings 104 against Australia in the second Test of the same series, 93 and 64 against South Africa in Cape Town and a series-leveling 74 in the second innings (highest score for India) against Sri Lanka in Galle a couple of months earlier in August.

As an opener, he is only behind Sunil Gavaskar and Virender Sehwag, both in terms of aggregate runs and batting average for India – 4119 runs at an average of 42.90 in 57 Tests.

He averaged higher than fellow openers like Tillakaratne Dilshan, Shane Watson, Andrew Strauss, Mohammad Hafeez and Martin Guptill among others during his Test career. In fact, he is among the top 10 openers in terms of averages in this time-frame. He also, on an average, played 78.43 balls per innings during this period – the second-best for an Indian opener (after M Vijay) and among the best ten in this period. Just for perspective, Sehwag faced 54.43 deliveries on an average every innings.

(With inputs from PTI)