Gautam Gambhir is noted for having a unique perspective of view. Few people have the ability to ignite a conversation with strong opinions like the former India opener.
Gambhir’s recent remark following India’s Asia Cup Super 4 match against Pakistan in Colombo was evidence of this. When Gambhir was asked to choose his Player of the Match in the post-match presentation on Star Sports following India’s best ODI win (in terms of runs) against Pakistan – India won by 228 runs – Gambhir chose Kuldeep Yadav rather than Virat Kohli or KL Rahul.
The final decision, though, favored Kohli. He was named Player of the Match for his unbroken 122-run innings. Naturally, Gambhir’s remarks gained attention.
For unversed, On Monday, Kohli broke several records. He became the quickest player to 13000 ODI runs, moved closer to matching Sachin Tendulkar’s (49) all-time record for ODI hundreds, and tied Hashim Amla’s record for most consecutive ODI centuries (4) at a site.
It was largely owing to his undefeated 233-run stand with KL Rahul, who also played a superb 111* performance, that India were able to post their joint-highest ODI total of 356 against Pakistan.
Chasing 357 on a surface like Colombo, where 250-260 is regarded a solid total, was always going to be a near-impossible job for any team. In that regard, India effectively knocked Pakistan out of the game.
And Kohli, as he has done so many times before, was the architect. With the heat factor and the caliber of the Pakistan bowlers in play, Kohli’s 147-run innings was deserving of Player of the Match honors.
Gambhir, on the other hand, had a different opinion. He went with left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who took his maiden five-wicket haul against Pakistan and gave them no chance of chasing the score.
Gambhir stated that he “can’t look beyond Kuldeep” as the Player of the Match because he spooked Pakistan batsmen, who are normally good spinners in the air and off the pitch.
“For me, it’s Kuldeep Yadav. Can’t look beyond him. I know Virat got a hundred KL (Rahul) got a hundred. Rohit (Sharma), Shubman Gill got fifties but on a wicket like this where it was seaming swinging, if someone get five wickets in 8 overs, especially against Pakistan batters, who play spin really well, is a game-changing moment.
“I can understand if it was Australia, South Africa or New Zealand because they don’t play spin that well. This just shows the quality of the bowler. He beat batters in the air and he beat batters off the wicket as well. Going into the World Cup, that is great for Indian cricket because now you have two attacking pacers upfront and Kuldeep… Three bowlers who can take wickets at any stage of the game,” said Gambhir.