What will you remember Gautam Gambhir for? The obvious choices are his two innings in the two World Cup finals he played — the ODI in 2011, and T20I in 2007. He top scored in both of them, of course. Or perhaps, the match-saving marathon knock in a Test match in Napier. Or will it be his mid-pitch fracas with Shahid Afridi?
How about that time, when in front of a roaring crowd at Eden Gardens, (which, incidentally, would go on to become his second home, thanks to the IPL), he decided his match-winning 150 against Sri Lanka was not worthy of the player-of-the-match award?
Instead, he thought, a fellow Delhi cricketer, an up-and-coming cricketer making his first ODI century deserved the prize more. A certain Virat Kohli.
“Well, a gesture here by Gambhir...,” said a surprised Ravi Shastri at the post-match presentation. “He wants to give this award to Virat Kohli, who’s got his first hundred in One Day Internationals.
READ: Gautam Gambhir — Grit, guts and India’s crisis manager
Sri Lanka had registered a huge score of 315 and Suranga Lakmal had removed openers Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar in no time. India were reeling at 23/2 in the fourth over.
Having a senior batsman Gambhir to guide the run-chase at the other end, Kohli pierced gaps at will and counter-punched with carefree abandon. Gambhir played an anchor role as the Delhi duo stitched a massive 224-run stand.
Just weeks after turning 21, Kohli got to his first ODI hundred. He didn’t see the team across the line, though, falling for 107. But Gambhir, who doubled down after Kohli’s dismissal to see India through, felt the youngster had given the run-chase the push it needed.
This is what Gambhir had to say on why he passed the Man of the Match award over to Kohli.
“The way Virat batted took a lot of pressure off my shoulders and we told ourselves to see what was happening after 35 overs, but then we didn’t need to take the Powerplay.”
Watch that famous moment here:
They didn’t always get along later on, but that moment sure was a highlight of Gambhir’s career as a selfless cricketer.