On the day he was named in the Test squad for the New Zealand series, Gambhir spoke to The Indian Express about his forced break and the excitement to be back with the boys.
It's been a frustrating period for Gautam Gambhir. A series of injuries, the latest being his knee strain during the first Test against Australia at Mohali, has seen Gambhir make the National Cricket Academy his base.
The left-hander watched India record a historic wash out against Australia on TV. On the day he was named in the Test squad for the New Zealand series, Gambhir spoke to The Indian Express about his forced break and the excitement to be back with the boys. Excerpts:
How did you spend your time while being away from Team India?
It's frustrating for me to sit at home and watch cricket on television. I watched every bit of the Vizag game (against Aussies) and I missed being part of the team. To be honest, missing out on a game after being dropped feels bad but to sit out with injury and watch other people play feels even worse. But I had to look at the bigger picture. There's the South Africa series followed by the World Cup and I decided to rest my knee. I have spent considerable time at the NCA for injury rehabilitation and am feeling good about my physical condition.
So how have been your preparations for the New Zealand series?
I have spent a lot of time away from the field, so at this point it's just about getting back and hitting the ball from the middle of the bat. It's important to get back into the rhythm. I have increased my 'batting time' at the nets and am happy with my fitness.
How tough is it to return to international cricket after an injury lay-off?
I am just staring at another challenge. When you are in the middle of a great run and suddenly you get injured, you have to start from scratch. When you go out to bat in a match after a long break, you just try to test if you still have the old touch. When you come back from a break, you need time to get used to things around you. If you look, I haven't played much in the last three months. It's a challenge that I am now looking forward to meet.
Do you think you made the most of your purple patch? Is it enough to see you through when you are not at the peak of form and fitness?
Whether I have made the most of it or not is not for me to say. But I know that no one in the world has been able to sustain his scoring form forever. At least I have been able to sustain it for two years. Form is just a state of mind, you can be in-form or out-of-form in just one innings. From my point of view, I haven't done very badly.
You missed the cut for the World Cup in 2007. Now again there's a cloud of uncertainty with these injuries. How much does the World Cup mean to you?
I have never played the World Cup so obviously that's one thing that's right there on my mind. In the last three years, I think I have done consistently well to get a place in the World Cup side. But at the same time I am not saying that everything else is secondary. It's not just about playing the World Cup but it's about being in good form and being absolutely fit. I plan to build on it from this New Zealand series, then to South Africa series and so on...
For the first time ever, BCCI is mulling about a request to send few batsmen to South Africa a week ahead to get used to the conditions there before the Test series. What's your take on it?
I think it's a fantastic idea. India has never won a series in South Africa so it is a tough assignment. When you go to South Africa after playing in sub-continental conditions you need to adjust. The more time players get to acclimatise themselves in those conditions, it will be fantastic preparations.