Gautam Gambhir, who recently announced his retirement from the game on Dec 4, has criticized former India captain MS Dhoni for his bizarre and not so popular captaincy decisions during the 2012 tri-series in Australia.
Gambhir, in an explosive interview with India Today, revealed how Dhoni told him that he couldn't play him, Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag in the ODI playing XI as they would leak runs on the field in Australia.
Gambhir and Tendulkar eventually got to play 7 matches in the series while Sehwag featured in 5. Gambhir amassed 308 runs at an average of 44 and was the second highest run-scorer for India behind Virat Kohli while Tendulkar and Sehwag managed just 143 and 65 runs respectively
"In the 2012 Tri-series in Australia, Dhoni declared that he can't play all three (Gambhir, Sachin, and Sehwag) of us together as he was looking ahead at the 2015 World Cup. It was a massive shock, I think it would have been a massive shock for any cricketer. I have not heard anyone be told in 2012 that they would never be a part of the 2015 World Cup. I always had the impression that if you keep scoring runs, age is a just a number," Gambhir told India Today.
"If you have the skills to score the runs and you are not a liability on the field, you can go on to play as long as you want. This was always told to us and even in Australia we got to know that all the three can't play together, and we eventually got to play together. When we were in a desperate need to win a game, I remember in Hobart, Viru and Sachin opened and I batted at three with Virat batted at four. India won that game and we had to chase in 37 over,” Gambhir said.
"At the start of the series, we didn't play together, it was a rotation thing. When it was a desperate moment, MS had to play three of us. If you take a decision, back your decision, stick to it. Don't back on something on which you have already decided. First, you decided that you won't play the three of us together, then you decided that you are going to play the three of us together. Either the original decision was wrong, or the second decision was wrong. He took that decision as a captain and it was a shock to all three of us," Gambhir added.
India was unfortunate not to make it into the finals, with Sri Lanka and Australia playing the best of three match finals.
Gambhir reveals that Dhoni had a meeting with him, Sehwag and Tendulkar and said that playing all three would cost 20 runs in the field in Australian conditions which is why he wanted to rotate the three openers in the CB Series.
The decision didn’t sit well with the Indian fans as well, as they were dumbfounded by Dhoni’s decision and subsequent explanations for his decision to not play Gambhir, Tendulkar, and Sehwag together.
"We had a meeting, he (Dhoni) chatted with everyone, with Gautam and myself and Tendulkar; he explained that he wanted to give chances to youngsters so youngsters can play all the matches here because the next World Cup is also here, so they'll get an idea of how the pitches behave in Australia," Sehwag had said during the series.
Talking about his captaincy experience in KKR, Gambhir said, "I don't know, I haven't captained India for a very long time. Sitting in front of you, I think I would have because I think the most important thing in captaincy is being selfless and being honest. Probably I have both in me. I don't like talking too highly of myself, but one thing that I feel when I look back at my career, I can say that I have been honest to my profession and I have been very selfless as well. That is probably the most important thing about a leader and I think that I had both those things. When I have captained KKR, I have been absolutely dead honest and been very selfless as well and that is what leaders are.”
Gambhir was also asked on who was the best captain he played under and he said, “I have been asked which is the best captain I have played under and I have always said that the captain is as good as his team. Today I can say that I have played under a lot of captains, but there was only one leader and that was Anil Kumble. I think I have learned so much from him.”
"I have played only five Tests under him. I made a comeback in Sri Lanka, where it was the Mendis and Murli series, and then I played a Border-Gavaskar series at home. I have learned a lot of my leadership skills form him. The way he was selfless and the way he was passionate... the way he was honest about his own cricket. I think I can say after I have retired that he was the best leader that I played under," Gambhir concluded.
(with inputs from indiatoday.in)