Dhaka: Sourav Ganguly has been known to back youngsters. Team India owes a lot to their skipper for bringing out the best in the Virender Sehwags and the Zaheer Khans.
The latest addition to the list has been Gautam Gambhir. The left-handed opener justified the immense faith shown on him by guiding India to victory against Bangladesh Wednesday. The effort earned him his maiden Man of the Match award. And the 21-year-old owes it all to Sourav.
“He has been of great help. He has helped me gain the confidence and it’s really showing,” Gambhir told The Telegraph this evening.
As a mark of gratitude, Gambhir got Sourav’s autograph on his bat after the match. It will remain a prized possession, he says.
“Veeru (Virender Sehwag) has also been very supportive. Their message has been very simple — try to time the ball and don’t go for the extravagant shots.”
Opening with his Delhi teammate has also eased the pressure. “He blazes away at the other end and that takes a lot of pressure off you. I just have to concentrate on my natural game,” explained Gambhir, who grew up under the tutelage of Sanjay Bharadwaj.
Not managing to make much of an impression in the two opening games, however, did not cross his mind when he went out Wednesday.
“It was not that I played badly and was all at sea. I knew that if I did manage to stay there, the runs would flow automatically.”
As he walked up to receive the award, he was reminded of his early days and his family. “My mother, mama, grandfather, grandmother and my friend Vivek, who has been the driving force behind my success.”
Gambhir is not worried that his place in the team will be uncertain once Sachin Tendulkar is back. “I am not thinking about such things, just concentrating on my own game.”
He, though, is open to batting down the order. “I can bat at any position if the need be,” he says.
The A-tour to the West Indies this year has matured him as a batsman.
“I had scored consistently in the domestic circuit but the tour of West Indies gave me the confidence. I was determined to continue with my form here,” Gambhir, who scored 620 runs there, remarked.
“The standard of cricket was good and getting to play on the fast Jamaica and Barbados wickets enhanced my abilities.”
Getting to train under Bishan Singh Bedi with the Delhi side also improved his batting.
“He’s a great motivator. He’ll lift your spirits several notches once you train under him. He also helped improve my fitness. He always insists, enjoy the game.”
It is now up to him to deliver consistently at the highest level.