The Indian Premier League (IPL) is the biggest annual event on the global cricket calendar. Started in 2008 with a lot of hope but cautious skepticism, having gone through many ebbs and flows, the league has emerged stronger each year to showcase the world’s best talents on a single stage. The league has established itself as one of the biggest platforms for youngsters to flaunt their skills – a celebration where cricket’s largest global community meet, compete, share and build bridges.
Marking the 12th anniversary of the decorated league, cricket.com celebrates and honours the legends of the IPL by inducting them to the 'Cricket.com IPL Hall of Fame' – stars who not only dazzled on the field of play but elevated the stature of the league to skyrocketing heights by their sheer presence. This year, cricket.com will induct 15 such legends. Our seventh "Cricket.com Hall of Fame" inductee is Gautam Gambhir.
Teams: Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders
Titles Won: 2 (2012 & 2014)
Play-off finishes: 5 (2008, 2009, 2011, 2016 & 2017)
- 3597 runs as an opener, fourth most in IPL
- Gambhir has struck the third most number of fours in IPL history (492)
- Has played 129 games as captains, second-most in IPL history
- Only IPL captain to win 10 games in a row
- Scored 3,518 runs as skipper, third-most in IPL history
- 31 fifties as captain, most in IPL history
- Reached play-offs five times in addition to winning the trophy twice
What makes him HoF worthy: Unshakable grit and peerless leadership
With over 4,ooo runs, Gautam Gambhir has a record as good any other batsman in the IPL but it was captaincy with which he left his indelible mark on the league and also Kolkata Knight Riders’ falling fortunes after the first three seasons. Being seen as a potential leader on the international level but never getting the opportunity, Gambhir was picked up by KKR in the 2011 auction for a whopping INR 11 crore and justified every penny spent on him during his seven-year long stay with the franchise.
A side which had not reached the top four in the first three years of the league, Gambhir led them to two titles inside four seasons. His biggest contribution to KKR and the league was Sunil Narine. When the mystery spinner was an unknown commodity, Gambhir convinced the management to go all-out for Narine in the auction because of his special skills. Narine was the purple cap winner in KKR’s first title victory in 2012 proving Gambhir’s eye for talent. Another established IPL star, Andre Russell, made his KKR debut under Gambhir’s leadership.
His never-give-up attitude also benefited KKR. Gambhir started 2014 with three consecutive ducks but recovered both as a batsman and captain. He scored over 300 runs and led the side to their second trophy after only two wins in the first half of the round-robin stage. Then, there was his aggression. The umbrella field with which he used to greet MS Dhoni consistently against spinners, as if it was the final hour of a Test match, makes for a fascinating picture.
Before leading Kolkata, Gambhir had already created waves as a batsman for Delhi. IPL came at a time when Gambhir was peaking as a batsman at the international level and it coincided delightfully with the tournament’s inception. In 2008, he was the perfect foil to Virender Sehwag’s madness at the top turning out to be the only Indian in the list of top five run-scorers that season. He could defend, he could attack. He was equally good both against pacers and spinners and continued to pile on the runs till a horror 2018 season.
However, that season highlighted many other layers of Gambhir as a leader. He moved back to his home franchise accepting the challenge of making Delhi great again. After an underwhelming first few games, he did not hesitate in making the selfless decision of stepping aside to make way for young blood - Prithvi Shaw as a player and Shreyas Iyer as a captain - inevitably putting an end to a successful IPL career with his head held high.
Very few cricketers have made a mark in IPL both as a batsman and captain and Gambhir is right up there with heavyweights like MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma in that regard.
NOTE: The 'Cricket.com IPL Hall of Fame' only considers players who have retired from the IPL and last played in or before the 2018 season.