Ahmedabad: Cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir on Thursday stated that the incumbent Indian captain Virat Kohli is able to efficiently lead the Indian cricket team as he has players like Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni with him in the squad.
He further added that the efficiency of one’s captaincy is actually put to test when you lead a franchise in the IPL.
“Still a long way to go for him. Kohli was very good in the last World Cup but he has a long way to go. He captains so well in international cricket because he has got Rohit Sharma, he had MS Dhoni for a long time.
Captaincy credentials are noticed when you are leading a franchise, when you do not have other players supporting you,” Gambhir told reporters while interacting with the students of a university.
“I have been honest whenever I have spoken about this. See what Rohit Sharma has achieved for Mumbai Indians, see what Dhoni has achieved for Chennai Super Kings. If you compare that with RCB, the results are there for everyone to see”, the BJP lawmaker added.
The former left-handed batsman vouched for Rohit Sharma opening the batting in Test format and said that the batsman is too good a player to be sitting on the bench.
“I think KL Rahul has been given a longer run. It is time for Rohit Sharma to open the batting in Test cricket. If you pick him in the squad, he has to be a part of the playing XI. If he does not fit your playing XI, no point in picking him in the squad of 15 or 16. He is too good a player to be sitting on the bench,” Gambhir said.
Gambhir also revealed that he thought about leaving cricket in 2007 after being left out of the 50-over World Cup squad.
India had a disappointing 50-over World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007 as they were knocked out in the group stages. However, in the same year, the Men in Blue lifted the maiden T20 World Cup in South Africa under the leadership of MS Dhoni and Gambhir finished as the leading run-scorer in the tournament.
“In 2007, when I missed the 50-over World Cup, that was the lowest moment in my cricketing career. I had given up on cricket. Before that, I had missed both U-14 and U-19 World Cups. In 2007 I thought I was the closest to play the World Cup, but when they did not include me in the squad, I had given up on cricket,” Gambhir said.
“Then I was chosen in Twenty-20 World Cup in 2007 and I got dismissed for a duck in the first match against Pakistan. But as fate has it, I finished as the leading run-scorer in the World Cup and we ended up winning the tournament so one should never give up,” he added.
Speaking candidly at the event, Gambhir said that he wanted to face Shane Warne in international cricket. He added that he only played against the leg-spinner in the IPL and he did not find it that tough.
“I wished I could have faced Shane Warne in international cricket. I only played against him in Indian Premier League (IPL) and I did not find it that difficult,” Gambhir said.
The 37-year-old Gambhir was awarded Padma Shri earlier this year, talking of which he said, that it came as surprise to him.
He also added that winning the Padma Shri will make him more responsible now.
“I did not expect the Padma Shri award. I never worked to achieve many awards and rewards. I only wanted to come back to my room happy. But then Arjuna award was a surprise and so was Padma Shri. The award is a great honour, and it makes one more responsible,” Gambhir said.
Commenting on the state of cricket in Delhi, Gambhir said that budding cricketers do not get much help from associations and selection committee, which is why they understand the need for working hard to get into the national team.
“In Delhi, you do not get help from many people, the association and selection committee also does not help that much, so people understand that one must work hard in order to stand out among the crowd. Facilities, infrastructure are not that great so budding cricketers understand they need to fight hard to get into the national team,” Gambhir said.
The left-handed batsman was instrumental in India’s World Cup-winning squads. The batsman played match-winning knocks in the T20 World Cup final in 2007 and 50 over World Cup in 2011.
The cricketer announced his retirement in the year 2018 after completing 10,000 runs in List-A cricket.