After his successful comeback to Test cricket in India’s recently-concluded series against New Zealand, Gautam Gambhir is back with the Delhi side to play Ranji Trophy.
Ahead of Delhi’s crucial Group B match against Karnataka starting at the Eden Gardens here on Thursday, Gambhir found some time to interact with Sportstar .
Question: How keen are you to play for Delhi again in Ranji Trophy?
Answer: For long it has been my burning desire to win the Ranji Trophy one more time for Delhi. We have been trying to do it for the last few seasons but good results have eluded us. I hope we can do it this time around and take Delhi to the final stage. Karnataka are a good side and hopefully we can be at our best against them here in Kolkata.
Eden Gardens has been a special place for you — be it with KKR or your centuries here or comeback to Test (even though you played in Kolkata as a substitute). How dear is the venue to you?
Oh, extremely close to my heart! You can say that I am playing for one home team at my second home. I see myself as a Kolkata boy born in Delhi. I don’t know how many people will turn up for a Ranji Trophy match but when we play IPL the crowd becomes a part of our team. Eden is me and I am Eden.
Your Test comeback was remarkable. How would you like to continue with your international career from here?
I would love to win as many matches as possible for India, Delhi, KKR or whichever team I play for. I was always true to my fitness regime and I think I need to continue to focus on this even harder for my international career to last some more years.
One of the most significant aspects of your comeback is your mental strength to hang in there playing domestic and IPL cricket. How did you back yourself when you were not part of the Indian squad?
Trust me it wasn’t tough at all. Ultimately one has to perform whatever be the platform. A lot of observers of the game equate the experience of Ranji Trophy to lack of luxuries like good hotels, better grounds etc. and then they feel for someone who has tasted the experience of playing for India will find it tough to return to domestic cricket because of these aspects. Let me tell you this is not true, at least not for me. What matters most is that you need to perform, train, perform, train, perform, train...I mean it is so monotonous that other things get boring. Therefore, it was never a question of motivation as I felt that performance was the key whatever be the platform.
Who were the people who supported you during this period? Any anecdote you remember of those times?
There have been a lot of people, unknown fans who are on my Twitter or those who leave remarks for me on my Facebook page, media who has supported me, my coaches, family, friends...a lot of people.
What did you learn from this phase?
Once again time told me a lot of things about me. Firstly, that cricket is not an end; it is only a means to an end. Secondly, life is tough for a lot of people who don’t have the opportunities. These people sleep with empty stomachs and with no hope of better tomorrow. Still they continue to go about their lives with the same zeal. I also learnt the fun of being a dad. I think Aazeen, my daughter, is a mentor who has given me perspective to life. I think the best thing that I learnt from my two-year-old is the relevance of small things in life, the importance of joining the small dots for the bigger picture.
Your changed stance was the most noticeable aspect of your batting in Indore. How did it happen? Is it true that Justin Langer had a role in it?
Yes, I did change my stance and that was after an advice from Justin Langer’s childhood coach Noddy Holder. While I learnt a lot about the mental side of things from Langer, Noddy worked on the skill set.
How challenging it is to keep pace with younger players in terms of fitness?
Good question. I think under Virat, fitness will be the key area. I mean every leader has his way of looking at things. Some captains emphasise on skills, others focus on fast bowlers or having a bigger pool of players etc. But looking at Virat I think he is a big one on fitness and rightly so. Because it is the physical fitness of a player that decides his mental fitness. Like I said, I have always been very honest towards my fitness schedule and therefore it won’t be a challenge for me to pull myself towards fitness.
How do you look forward to the challenge of playing in the upcoming series against England?
Well, I need to be picked in the squad first, but overall I feel that it will be a more challenging series than the current one against New Zealand.
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