Amongst a bunch of kits strewn around at the Bharat Nagar Sports Complex, a blue tag with a World T20 logo, mentioning ‘Member Indian team’, was hanging out distinctly from the black kitbag. A closer look showed ‘Gambhir’ engraved on it. Team India, somehow, is still preoccupied with that tournament. A few of the players have just finished scribbling replies to a show cause notice following a pub brawl, while others are recovering from the trauma of a failed campaign.
Gautam Gambhir didn’t unpack his kit bag upon returning home from the West Indies. On Tuesday, he picked up that very bag and headed for a game ? one which will help him prepare for the Asia Cup and the Sri Lanka series. The met man marked his reading as 45.2 degrees for Wednesday, but that didn’t alter the Indian opener’s plan of venturing into the Delhi summer circuit.
“You want to know what am I doing here in this heat? I am here to get some good practice to play 50-over cricket to prepare myself for the Asia Cup,” said Gambhir, who turned up for employers ONGC in a quarter-final game of the Laxman Dass Chabbra cricket tournament against Rohtak Road Gymkhana. “Let the others rest. I am ok. Ten days are enough for me. I want to get a few one-day matches under my belt,” he added.
Gambhir has charted his summer circuit plan well in advance. The left-hander will be in action again in the semi-final of the tournament on Friday, and at the Lala Raghubir tournament on Saturday. Gambhir will spotted more often in the coming two weeks playing the summer circuit in the Capital and will be hitting the nets on non-match days.
Gambhir made 32 in his side’s victory on a wicket that assisted spinners. He began with a square cut off the backfoot, used his footwork admirably to play some delectable over-the-cover-region shots. Gambhir lost his wicket trying to heave leg-spinner Abhishek Sharma over deep mid-wicket but was caught inside the rope.
Earlier, Sharma scored a whirlwind 58 off 32 deliveries to take RR Gymkhana to a competitive total after put into bat on a wicket that was still damp despite an hour’s delay. Opener Gaurav Goel withstood an early probe with the new ball while ONGC skipper Amit Bhandari split open the middle order with a heavy dose of reverse swing that fetched him two wickets. Batting with a runner, Sharma hit clean to make the most of batting powerplay opted for in the last three overs of the 35-over game.
Though Gambhir was the star attraction, it was Radhey Shyam Gupta and Saleem Ansari with half-centuries to their credit, who guided their team home with six wickets to spare. Gupta scored an unbeaten 58 while Ansari was unbeaten on 56 as ONGC chased down 204.
Ansari was handed the man of the match, while Gambhir gifted a brand new bat to the other star of the afternoon.
At the end of it all, the heat did get to Gambhir. But it wasn’t on the field that Gambhir started to fret about the summer sun. Rather, the interiors of his car was so hot that the India opener had to wait a while before driving home.
Brief scores: RR Gymkhana 204 for 7 in 35 overs (Abhishek Sharma not out 58, Gaurav Goel 46, Praveen Gupta 2/24, Amit Bhandari 2/47 ); ONGC 208 for 4 in 32.4 overs (Radhey Shyam Gupta not out 58, Saleem Ansari not out 56, Sandeep Sharma 48, Gautam Gambhir 32, Abhishek Sharma 2/31)