New Delhi, March 19 (IANS) India discard Gautam Gambhir doesn’t see the Indian Premier League as a platform to make his case for a national comeback. The opening batsman has set no deadline for himself but says he will quit the day he is not enjoying the game.
For the present, Gambhir’s priority is the upcoming IPL seventh edition and the southpaw says his focus is to do well for Kolkata Knight Riders which he has ably led the last three seasons.
Gambhir has not set himself a deadline even as his seniors Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh maintain they remain good enough to play at the highest level for another three to four years.
“I have not thought about it to be honest. I don’t think about how long I can play. Be it any level, the day I feel I can’t contribute to the team, I will stop playing,” Gambhir, who last played for India in January 2013, told IANS at the launch of Red Bull’s ‘Wings for Life World Run’ Wednesday.
Times have changed for the 32-year-old, who was an integral part of the Indian team till a couple of years ago and helped his side win the 2011 ODI World Cup with a gritty 97. He now finds himself grinding it out on the domestic circuit, unsure of playing the next World Cup in 2015.
Asked whether playing at nondescript grounds and empty stadiums is still fun, Gambhir said: “Domestic cricket has always been the stepping stone. As long as the love for the game is there, you don’t mind playing at any level. That is what really matters.
“I don’t know when I will get back into the team. Times change quickly. I was part of a World Cup winning team and now I am not in the side. I have to face the reality and that is why I am looking forward to doing well in IPL and other domestic competitions,” he said candidly.
Gambhir, who led Delhi’s forgettable campaign in the Ranji Trophy and Vijay Hazare North Zone one-dayers this season, confirmed that he will be playing in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy (starting March 28) post the Deodhar Trophy which begins Sunday.
“Playing Mushtaq Ali will be good practice before IPL. It takes some time to get into the T20 groove and the domestic event will help me do that.”
Gambhir is likely to retain captaincy at KKR, being one of the two retained players alongside West Indian Sunil Narine. He is hoping the squad gels the way it did in 2012 when they emerged champions.
“I think most of the sides are balanced and it is going to be a competitive tournament,” he said adding that offie Narine is not the only trumpcard up his sleeve.
Twenty matches of the IPL will be played in the United Arab Emirates, raising concerns about the hot weather there. However, for Gambhir, heat is not a problem.
“It is hot and humid in Kolkata as well, so it doesn’t really change much. Everyone gets enough time to get used to the conditions.”
Asked about India’s disappointing show in Asia Cup, New Zealand and South Africa, Gambhir said he expected them to do well in the ongoing World T20.
“India have the firepower to do well and T20 provides them the flair and freedom to do that,” he said adding that he prefers watching football on TV to cricket.
What does he have to say about his Delhi teammate Virat Kohli, who has been showered with praise of late?
“Virat is doing well and if he continues the same way, he should help India win more games,” concluded Gambhir.