Paddy Upton, who was India’s Mental Conditioning and Strategic Leadership Coach in the 2011 World Cup, opines that Gautam Gambhir went under the radar often while surrounded by some big names in Indian cricket. He reckons Gautam Gambhir along with MS Dhoni were two of their ‘best high-pressure players’ in the side.
Gautam Gambhir played a brilliant knock of 97 runs in the final after India had lost two early wickets of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar in the run-chase of 275 against Sri Lanka. Paddy Upton says that the left-hander was the powerful bridge in the line-up between the openers to the middle-order.
Gautam Gambhir played two of the most important knocks of his career on the biggest stage of all – the 2007 T20 World Cup final and the 2011 World Cup final. He was, in fact, a prolific run-scorer in the tournament with 4 half-centuries to his name, but remained under the shadow of other players.
“There was that additional pressure and disappointment of having Sehwag and Tendulkar back in the change room. But the reality was, you had two of the best high-pressure players in the team – one of them at the crease – Gautam Gambhir. Gary Kirsten used to call him the rock. He spent most of his career as Sehwag’s sidekick,” Paddy Upton told cricket.com.
“Sehwag would be the guy who used to be on the highlights package and play the flamboyant cricket and get the crowd cheering. Gambhir would just squirt the ball with that square drive behind backward point. He wouldn’t get the crowd going and he wouldn’t make it to the highlights package, but Gambhir was the glue that kept the great batting line-up of that era together,” he added.
MS Dhoni was at that time, probably still is, best in the world when it comes to second innings chase: Paddy Upton
The 52-year-old South African also speaks highly of MS Dhoni. He opines that the former India captain was the best batsman – and believes still is – when it comes to run chases. Paddy Upton points out that despite the fact that Dhoni was not amongst runs in the entire tournament before the final, he was still their best bet under intense run-chases.
Not long before the World Cup, Dhoni was ruling the ICC ODI rankings charts, and hence Upton and coach Gary Kirsten believed in the skipper when he promoted himself over in-form Yuvraj Singh.
“Although he had not delivered with the bat for seven games until then, MS Dhoni was at that time, probably still is, the best in the world when it comes to second innings chase in white-ball cricket. So, we really did have, in truth, our two biggest guns or two biggest bullets still in the chamber,” he further added.