Prolific Gambhir continues to impress

Southpaw joins elite club with five centuries in as many Tests

The act was a reflection of his confidence, his awareness of the route to be travelled and the belief that destiny is on his side. There was a period when Gambhir suffered from inconsistency and perhaps a bit of lack of confidence as well, struggling to convert 50s into hundreds.

Then it seemed that Gambhir would go down as a youngster who failed to capitalise on his abundance of talent. But he seemed to have found a magic formula for conversion while scoring a hundred against Australia at Mohali in 2008. Since then Gambhir has been a transformed batsman, scoring hundreds at will.

“Yes, that second innings hundred against Australia at Mohali was the turning point. Viru used to tell me about the importance of converting 50s into 100s to be successful in international cricket, and I realised the significance of his words then. There was a period when I thought I would never get my second hundred, but after the Mohali hundred I told myself if I can get my second ton, I am good enough to get many more,” Gambhir said.       

Now, Gambhir scores a hundred in every 3.4 Tests and that rate is second only to Sachin Tendulkar (3.7) in the current Indian line-up. So, it offered little surprise when Gambhir joined an elite club on a bright Wednesday. Gambhir’s fifth consecutive hundred made him the lone Indian to achieve the feat surpassing Rahul Dravid and Sunil Gavaskar.
Leader of this club, of course, is Don Bradman, who had made six hundreds in a row, while Jacques Kallis and Mohammad Yousuf, five each, complete the list.

Countering consitions

Gambhir’s five successive hundreds have come against New Zealand (137 in Napier, 167 in Wellington), Sri Lanka (114 in Ahmedabad, 167 in Kanpur) and Bangladesh (116 in Dhaka). More remarkably, barring that hundred in Kanpur all others have come in second innings, benchmark for a batsman’s ability to counter conditions less friendly for his craft.
The Delhi left-hander’s average during the last two years has been an imposing 77, his career average stands now at 56.73 after 28 Tests, and an exceptional 84.88 in the last five Tests.

“I don’t play for records as records and awards do not motivate me. There is no better motivation than playing with tri-colour in mind. If you think too much about records then it can only add extra pressure. My way is to play with just the team’s benefit in my mind,” Gambhir, the ICC Test player, 2009, said.

These numbers are not made solely built on orthodoxy as classic jells well with remix in his case, making the left-hander an indivisible component in all three formats of the game.

“Whenever I come out to bat, I view that innings as my last innings for the country so that I can give my best all the time. Honestly, it is not an effort to impress anybody.
“But whenever I look at the mirror I need to feel proud of myself,” he said.
But millions have already been impressed, and the list will only swell if Gambhir can join Sir Don at the top with another hundred in Dhaka.

Gambhir stats

* Gautam Gambhir, by becoming the first left-hand batsman to make hundreds in five successive Tests, has taken his batting average to 57.27 -- the best amongst the Indians.

* Gambhir has joined Jacques Kallis and Mohammad Yousuf, who also have five centuries in a row. Only Don Bradman is ahead of them with six consecutive tons in as many Tests.

* With his century, Gambhir is the first Indian batsman to make fifty-plus in ten consecutive Tests between October 2008 and January 2010.

* Of his eight opponents, he has recorded fifty-plus average against five nations -- 90.25 against England, 89.00 against New Zealand, 78.25 against Bangladesh, 72.00 against Zimbabwe and 58.37 against Australia.

* Gambhir's average on foreign soil is 71.29 -- 1212 in 11 Tests, which is the best amongst his contemporaries.

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