The last time India toured New Zealand in 2009, the spotlight was on Gautam Gambhir, about to play his first major Test series outside the sub-continent. Gambir, who until that time had played just 23 Tests, was a revelation on the tour, scoring 445 runs at an average of 89 in three Tests with two centuries. His 642-minute vigil in the second Test during for 137 helped India draw the match and clinch a historic 1-0 series win, the first on the New Zealand soil after 41 years.
Gambhir, who went on to become a vital member in the Indian team, has fond memories from that tour. “I remember it was my first important overseas tour and people were talking how it would the biggest challenge of my playing career. I scored runs in those conditions and that helped me in doing well on overseas tours and eventually in Test. I didn’t do anything different; it was all about mental set up,” said the left-handed opener.
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With the Indian openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma struggling to score runs in New Zealand and India losing the ODI series 4-0, Gambhir hopes India will bounce back in the Test series. “When you go overseas, it is very important to start well as it helps in getting the momentum. Unfortunately, India could not do that and lost the ODI series. One should always be ahead of the opponent but if not, then you start chasing and that puts you on the backfoot. Hopefully, India will get the momentum back in Test series,” Gambhir, who last played a Test against England in December 2013.
However, Gambhir has received a lifeline in the form of an Irani Cup-call up. “It is a big and important tournament for me. I will just go out there and try to give my best rather than doing something differently,” said the 32-year-old. The opener has also turned to a former player to help him get back his confidence, appointing WV Raman, former India opener, as a consultant for a week.
“I just needed reassurance about by game and how to approach things. Raman was the right person, a left hander like me. He was of great help,” added Gambhir. Gambhir has had a relatively good Ranji season as Delhi’s top scorer with 578 runs in seven matches. Overall this season, Gambhir accumulated 712 runs in nine first-class matches at an average of 50.85 with two centuries.