The day after the Indian Premier League has released the list of 1,003 registered players for the IPL Season 12 auction on December 18, Gambhir walks out for his last outing in any format of organised cricket. The Delhi, India, Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils went into the Ranji Trophy game against Andhra after having confirmed it as the last outing of his first class career.
The international career decorated with two ICC World crowns has seen the extreme peaks and depressing lows the career, while playing for the pride of representing India or serving his contracts in the cash-rich Indian Premier League.
Few would take as much pride as this patriotic, philanthropist left-hander opener would take in serving the nation in Indian cricket. With fellow Delhi’ite Virender Sehwag he formed a formidable opening pair that would lay foundations of 300 plus scores on Day One of a Test or set up ODI innings worth 300 plus runs to ensure wins for Team India – at home and away, putting the best of bowling attacks in defensive mode.
Selectors turned a blind eye to the same Gambhir as he piled heaps of runs in the IPL Season 2015 and 2016. It needed the nerve of steel to go back to the nets every morning amidst such apathy from the people who mattered to make his contributions count.
On the IPL front, too, it won’t have been no more depressing than being dropped by the Kolkata Knight Riders after leading the team to the two championship titles – 2012 and 2014. Only Chennai Super Kings under mercurial MS Dhoni had won two IPL titles before that.
After serving Delhi Daredevils in the first three seasons of the IPL, Gambhir played a crucial role in shaping the fortunes of Shah Rukh Khan co-owned Kolkata Knight Riders, who had acquired his services at ₹11.04 crore in 2011 and then renewed the deal for ₹12.5 crore, which continued to be his salary contract till 2017 before the team management surprisingly left their most committed and most successful leader out of the scheme of things.
Opting himself from the Delhi Daredevils playing after following a sequence of disappointing outings, Gambhir had made it evident that it was the end of the IPL road for him.
As the IPL management was engaged in compiling the list of the players registered for the 2019, Gambhir came up with the emotional announcement to call it the day on the call of his inner self.
He bids adieu to the Indian Premier League with ₹94.62 crore on his IPL salary calculator Moneyball scorecard – a little shy of the well-deserved 100. But the champion for whom money has been nothing more than a by-product will even for IPL will be remembered for leading KKR to two title triumphs, for simply relinquishing the captaincy and contributing the Delhi Daredevils from the dugout with all his experience and declining to accept his pay cheque of ₹2.8 crore in his last season of the league.
The players who have played under and along with him, primarily his juniors, will remember Gambhir as a leader who stood for his team, as an elder who tolerated no nonsense for his youngsters.