New Delhi, July 8 -- Just days after being ignored even for India's second string squad to Zimbabwe, opener Gautam Gambhir displayed some of his renowned grit at the Ferozeshah Kotla. Playing the final of the DDCA Hot Weather Tournament under lights, Gambhir guided ONGC to a resounding 9 wicket win over Air India with a century.
It seemed like a fresh beginning, one that is likely to continue into the next first-class season. With ONGC chasing 268 in 45 overs, Gambhir's start was full of nerves.
He tried to cut the first ball but couldn't connect. A few balls later he survived a leg before shout. A few edgy shots later, the left-hander decided to see the new ball off.
When his team had crossed 50, Gambhir had just 15 to his name.
His partner, Sandeep Sharma, went after the bowling initially, pulling ferociously and even hitting risky shots. But that took the pressure off Gambhir and allowed him room to breathe and settle down.
Soon after, Gambhir hit a trademark cut shot that raced to the fence. And then he stepped out to clear the infield. That set the tone for what was a well-fought ton.
Sandeep too got a century (124*). Air India, missing their opening bowler, the alleged spot-fixer Ajit Chandila, had no answer. "Chandila's absence made a difference," said manager Manoj Sharma. On Saturday, his absence almost cost Air India a final berth. They managed to beat Kishan Ganj by a solitary run even after scoring 296.
Gambhir, who had missed the earlier games of the event, made 105 in 118 balls with 11 fours and two sixes.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.