5 unforgettable Gautam Gambhir knocks across the formats

Ashwan Rao

2011 WC finals vs SL

Former Indian opener, Gautam Gambhir announced his retirement from all forms of the game on Tuesday (December 4, 2018) thus ending his phenomenal 15-year International career. The southpaw, who made his ODI debut back in April 2003 against Bangladesh at Dhaka, made his Test debut a year later against Australia at Mumbai. Gambhir's contributions with the bat in the finals of both 2007 ICC World T20 and 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup made him the unsung hero of two India's World titles.

The Delhiite also made his mark in the IPL winning two titles with Kolkata Knight Riders. Gambhir, who was the most expensive buy of the 2011 IPL auctions ($2.4 million) with his astounding leadership skills led the Kolkata franchise all the way in the fifth and seven editions of the cash-rich league. Now as he announced his retirement from the Gentleman's game, let us now look at five of his most memorable knocks across the formats.

5) 150*(137) vs Sri Lanka at Kolkata (2009)

Against Sri Lanka at Kolkata

It was the fourth game of the five-match ODI series against Sri Lanka at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata. On winning the toss, former Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara opted to bat first. Opener Upul Tharanga (118 off 128) and Sangakkara (60 off 72) were the major contributors with the bat for the visitors, as they scored 315/6 in 50 overs. Chasing 316 under the lights is never easy, but the hosts won the game by seven wickets- courtesy Gambhir's valiant 150*(137) and Virat Kohli's sensible 107(114).

It was Virat Kohli's first ever ODI ton as he shared a 224-run third-wicket partnership with Gambhir and made sure the Men in Blue were well on course to chase the 300+ plus target. Gambhir's Man-of-the-match winning knock saw him amass 14 fours on that cold winter evening at the historic Eden Gardens.

Later, Gambhir graciously handed over his Man of the match trophy to a young Virat Kohli for his sensational first ODI century. MS Dhoni's men, who chased down the target of 316 in 48.1 overs clinched the five-match ODI series 3-1. Gambhir's knock of 150* off 137 balls remains to be his highest score in the ODIs.

4) 206(380) vs Australia at Delhi (2008)

Against Australia at Delhi

It was the third game of the four-Test match series between hosts India and Australia at Feroz Shah Kotla which turned out to be former skipper, Anil Kumble's last Test match. Kumble opted to bat first on winning the toss as Gambhir opened the innings with Virender Sehwag, who fell very early for just 1 off 2. After Rahul Dravid's (11) dismissal, Gambhir shared A crucial 130-run partnership with Sachin Tendulkar (68 off 126). VVS Laxman complemented the southpaw with a sublime double-century (200* off 301), as the duo shared a partnership of 278 runs for the fourth wicket that took the Indian total past 400.

Eventually, Gambhir was dismissed by Shane Watson for 206(380) and his knock included 26 boundaries and a six. Opening the innings for India, the Delhiite stayed at the crease until the 124th over during his monumental knock at his home-ground. Though the match ended in a draw, India won the four-match Test series 2-0. This phenomenal knock of 206 remains his highest score in Test match cricket!

3) 167(257) vs New Zealand at Wellington (2009)

Against New Zealand at Wellington

It was the third and final Test match of the series with the visitors already 1-0 up after winning the first Test at Hamilton by 10 wickets. After the hosts opted to bowl first on winning the toss, India posted 379 runs in the first innings with major contributions from Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, and MS Dhoni. With the bowlers doing their job, India restricted the hosts to 197 in their first innings.

Gautam Gambhir proved his excellence with the bat in the tough, windy conditions amassing 167 off 257 balls in the second innings thereby extending India's lead. His knock of 167 included 16 fours and two sixes plummeted the Indian total to 434-7 (dec) thereby setting the hosts a target of 617. In reply, the hosts scored 281-8 as the match ended in a draw. With a knock of 167, Gambhir stamped his excellence in the ultimate format in overseas conditions.

2) 75 (54) vs Pakistan at Johannesburg (2007), ICC World T20 final

2007 ICC World T20

Arch-rivals, India, and Pakistan contested the high-voltage finals of the inaugural ICC World T20 in 2007 at the Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg. After Indian skipper, MS Dhoni opted to bat first on winning the toss, Gautam Gambhir opened the innings along with the explosive, Yusuf Pathan on that hot and humid afternoon.

Gambhir stood strong for the Men in Blue on the day when every other Indian batsman failed to get going with the bat. The pressure of an India-Pakistan final did not impact his natural game, as he went on to make a match-winning 75 (54) amassing eight boundaries and two sixes en route his valuable contribution.

India finished their innings at 157-5 in 20 overs, setting a modest target of 158 for Pakistan to claim the glory. Courtesy a brilliant display of bowling from the Indian pacers and Gambhir's determined knock, India clinched the inaugural World T20 title signaling the beginning of an unforgettable era under 'Captain Cool' MS Dhoni. Gambhir proved why he loves big occasions with one of the most memorable knocks of his career.

1) 97 (122) vs Sri Lanka at Mumbai (2011), ICC Cricket World Cup final

2011 WC final

This match will be etched in the memories of every Indian Cricket fan forever. April 2, 2011- a landmark day in the history of Indian cricket as Team India won their second ICC Cricket World Cup title.

Opting to bat first on winning the toss, Sangakkara's men posted a challenging 274-6 in 50 overs- courtesy former skipper, Mahela Jayawardene's scintillating century (103* off 88 balls). Chasing 275 runs in a World Cup final seemed a daunting task for Dhoni's men especially after the early dismissals of Virender Sehwag (0 off 2 balls) and Sachin Tendulkar (18 off 14 balls).

But Gambhir stabilized the innings for India, sharing an 83-run third wicket partnership with Virat Kohli. After Kohli was dismissed by Tillakaratne Dilshan, Gambhir was joined by skipper MS Dhoni who promoted himself ahead of Yuvraj Singh. The duo added 109 runs for the fourth wicket that almost secured the World Cup for India.

Gambhir was dismissed by Thisara Perera for 97 thereby missing out on a well-deserved century in an all-important game, with India needing another 52 runs for victory. Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni made sure that India chased down the target with 10 balls to spare. It was the Men in Blue's first ICC Cricket World Cup title in 28 years as they defeated the Lankans by six wickets. Once again Gambhir proved why he is a big-match player.