Gautam Gambhir has announced his decision to retire from all forms of cricket, calling time on a career that lasted nearly two decades.

The 37-year-old announced his decision on social media, saying the last edition of Indian Premier League, during which he struggled for runs and gave up captaincy six games into the season, was the last straw. The upcoming Ranji Trophy game between Delhi and Andhra Pradesh at the Feroz Shah Kotla is set to be his last appearance.

Gambhir played 58 Tests for India, scoring 4154 runs, at an average of 41.95, including nine centuries and 22 fifties. He was awarded the ICC batsman of the year in 2009 and was part of the team that became the No 1 ranked side in the longest format for the first time.

He played 147 ODIs, scoring 5238 runs at an average of 39.68 and a strike-rate of 85.25. He was the top-scorer in the 2011 World Cup final against Sri Lanka as India lifted the trophy after 28 years.

Gambhir also played in 37 T20Is, top-scoring in the 2007 World T20 final against Pakistan when India became champions in the inaugural edition. More recently, Gambhir had led Kolkata Knight Riders to two IPL titles and in 2017-’18, captained a Delhi side that finished runners-up in the Ranji Trophy.

Watch his retirement announcement here:

“The thought has been with me day and night. It has travelled with me on flights like an irritable excess baggage, it has accompanied me to practice sessions, mocking at me like a menacing bowler. On certain other days, it has made my dinner taste horrible,” Gambhir said, elaborating on his thought process leading up to Tuesday’s decision.

The left-hander, who is known for his outspoken views on political issues as well, had a prolific first-class career, which spanned 197 matches and produced 15,041 runs. His List A run count stands at 10,077.

“Each time I got out playing for India, or KKR or Delhi Daredevils, this thought would turn into a sharp disturbing noise and walk with me all the way to the dressing room shouting that ‘it is over Gauti’,” he explained.

Gambhir said the thought became overpowering during the 2014 IPL, the lowest ebb being three successive ducks in the tournament and things only got worse for him after that.

“I was searching for my confidence in that deep, dark pit but I could only lay my hands on the same sharp, disturbing noise. It said the same: ‘It is over Gauti’,” he said.

Gambhir said he tried hard to make a comeback in this year’s IPL but could not make it count.

“After a decent 2017 domestic season, I entered this year’s IPL with confidence as my best buddy. I thought all those negative noises were dead. But I was wrong. Six games of IPL for Delhi Daredevils it was back. And this time it was louder than before. Perhaps, my time was up. Yes, my time was up,” he said.

“So, here I am, after more than 15 years of cricket for my country I want to retire from playing this beautiful game,” he added.

Willing to go through the same “aches and pains” and “fears and failures” all over again even in his next life as a cricketer, Gambhir said being the top run-getter in the two World Cup finals would remain the high point of his career.

“I think someone up there was writing my script but looks like now he has run out of his ink! But along the way he wrote some fascinating chapters,” he said.

“The historic series win in New Zealand and in CB series in Australia will be reflected upon fondly,” he said.

He refused to call his international career, which began in 2003 with an ODI against Bangladesh, completely satisfactory but certainly the kind he would look back at fondly.

“I feel I was good enough for a lot more,” he said.

In the video, Gambhir thanked his coaches, teammates and family members for standing by him.

“At some stage, I would like to shed the retired cricketer’s tag and would like to recycle myself to be useful for something else in cricket and beyond. Let’s see,” he added.

(With PTI inputs)