Inside The Mind of Gautam Gambhir


Inside The Mind of Gautam Gambhir

Illustration: Juergen Dsouza


#@^$%  M@|)^%$#!

Phew. Sorry to start off on that crass note but my inner-Dilli felt really suppressed after the industrial-size feels bomb I dropped in my TOI statement. Just needed to get that out of my system before we began, ya know? Speaking of feels, just imagine if people gave up 2.8 crore of undeserved money every time blinds hit their hotel room wall? If only the Modis and Choksis of the world thought the way I did, we’d probably solve India’s black money problem.

It’s been a tough week for me, even though I’m no stranger to being the nice guy who finishes last. The insensitive media, coupled with ungrateful fans, have driven me borderline insane. When was the last time you heard of a cricketer giving up a handsome payday simply because he didn’t think he deserved it? We’ve only heard of legends asking for tax exemption.  

Until last year, I was captain of the Kolkata Knight Riders, unarguably one of the most successful franchises in the IPL. But even the most passionate Korbo-Lorbo-Jeetbo chanters didn’t believe King Khan’s team could win a title before I arrived. It was only after I took over the captaincy from Dada that Kolkata’s fortunes turned in a big way. After leading them to IPL trophies in 2012 and 2014, I ensured KKR a berth in the playoffs every year since joining. Do you know how immense the pressure to win a trophy is, when your boss is Shah Rukh Khan? The man wins tons of awards every year – I’m pretty sure they once gave him a Filmfare for merely breathing!

I decided to follow my heart and told the KKR CEO that I’d like to end my career where it began – with Delhi Daredevils

Anyway, Kolkata expressed enthusiasm in retaining me in their 2018 squad. But banda hai bhi emotional na. I decided to follow my heart and told the KKR CEO that I’d like to end my career where it began – with Delhi Daredevils

I don’t know what I was thinking, but it all went downhill from there.

It began with Ricky Ponting laughing in my face during my welcome back party. I thought it’s some silly initiation thing but when I overheard him and Glen Maxwell say, “Mate must be a sucker for punishment,” it finally hit me. I’d made a huge mistake. But I trooped on and began prepping for the tourney.

The first couple of games were nightmarish and our only glimmer of hope came via a win against notorious slow-starters, Mumbai. MI started the tournament in typical abysmal fashion but showed just enough promise to make their inevitable playoff spot seem believable. God! How I envy Rohit. His awful captaincy has somehow managed to make the most successful team in the IPL look like modern-day Satyagrahis: They just can’t beat anyone.

And yet, I am the one giving up my salary out of guilt. Rohit is probably reading this wondering, “Hmm, 2.8 crore hota kya hai? Can barely buy a decrepit 2BHK in Bhandup.”

And while Bangalore continues to redefine the definition of “defendable totals” in most other games, they chased down our formidable 176 with two overs to spare. That was such a body blow to my ego that post match, I decided to actually go up to Virat and get some anger-management tips. I had truly hit rock bottom.

This year, as always, my former teammates at KKR have featured in more ads than anyone else. And also managed to beat my DD boys by a whopping 71 runs. At that moment, when I saw my former KKR teammates celebrate the win, I finally understood what Dada felt during his Pune Warriors phase. Also, what is up with KXIP beating us twice and already being table-toppers? What is this? 2014?

But I guess, the losses I can handle. And stepping down from captaincy is just collateral damage in the long-term scheme of things. Always a team guy, I don’t like to remind people of my match-winning contributions to India’s biggest World Cup wins in 2007 as well as 2011.

But like I said, the negativity from the media and general trolls has begun to feel abusive. And I’m not sure my pride allows me to take this kind of abuse anymore. Plus, if all I wanted was abuse, I’d simply make a long-distance call to my old buddy, Shahid Afridi.