New Head Coach Gambhir 'honoured to serve tricolour'

New Head Coach Gambhir 'honoured to serve tricolour'

New Delhi: 'I have always taken pride while donning the Indian jersey during my playing days and it is going to be no different when I take up this new role.'

Newly-appointed India head coach Gautam Gambhir on Tuesday said it would be an "absolute honour to serve the tricolour" in the high-profile position and he would do "everything in his power" to deliver good results for the team.

Gambhir, one of the heroes of India's 2011 ODI World Cup triumph, took over the responsibilities of the Indian team following the departure of Rahul Dravid after the T20 World Cup triumph recently.

"India is my identity and serving my country has been the greatest privilege of my life. I'm honoured to be back, albeit wearing a different hat. But my goal is the same as it has always been, to make every Indian proud.

"The men in blue shoulder the dreams of 1.4 billion Indians and I will do everything in my power to make these dreams come true!," Gambhir wrote on his X handle.

Gambhir, who also captained IPL side Kolkata Knight Riders to two title triumphs and then returned as mentor in 2024 to guide them to a third IPL trophy, also congratulated Dravid for his stellar three-year tenure.

"It is an absolute honour to serve my tricolour, my people, my country. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Rahul Dravid and his team of support staff for their exemplary run with the team. I am honoured and excited to take on the role of Head Coach for Team India."

Gambhir said he was looking forward to working with some of the leading luminaries of cricket, including National Cricket Academy chief VVS Laxman, to take Indian cricket forward.

"I have always taken pride while donning the Indian jersey during my playing days and it is going to be no different when I take up this new role.

"Cricket has been my passion and I look forward to working closely with the BCCI, Head of Cricket, Mr VVS Laxman, the support staff, and, most importantly, the players, as we work towards achieving success in the upcoming tournaments," he said in a BCCI statement.

Gambhir's first assignment as India coach will be the of tour Sri Lanka for three T20Is and as many ODIs starting July 27.

"The Board would like to thank former Head Coach, Mr Rahul Dravid for his brilliant run with the team. Team India now embarks on a journey under a new coach -- Mr Gautam Gambhir," said BCCI President Roger Binny in an elaborate statement.

The Board also congratulated Paras Mhambrey (Bowling Coach), T Dilip (Fielding Coach) and Vikram Rathour (Batting Coach) on a highly successful tenure. Their tenures too came to an end with Dravid's departure.

"The BCCI values their contribution and wishes them the best going forward," it added. 

The Board stated that the Cricket Advisory Committee comprising Ashok Malhotra, Jatin Paranjpe and Sulakshana Naik on Tuesday unanimously recommended Gambhir.

The BCCI had invited applications for the position on May 13.

"His experience, dedication, and vision for the game make him the ideal candidate to guide our team forward. We are confident that under his leadership, Team India will continue to excel and make the nation proud," Binny.

Gautam Gambhir had made his international debut in 2003 and was an integral part of the 2007 and 2011 World Cup-winning teams

The sentiment was echoed by Board secretary Jay Shah.

"Gambhir has been a fierce competitor and a brilliant strategist. We believe he will bring the same tenacity and leadership to his role as Head Coach. His transition to the role of Head Coach is a natural progression, and I believe he will bring out the best in our players," he said.

Shah said he expects Gambhir, who played key roles in India's 2007 T20 World Cup and 2011 ODI World Cup triumphs, to inspire and lead the team to new heights.

"His vision for the future of Indian cricket aligns perfectly with our goals, and we are excited about the journey ahead," he added.

As a player, Gambhir also led Kolkata Knight Riders to IPL titles in 2012 and 2014. He then proved his coaching credentials as the mentor of the KKR team that won the IPL title earlier this year.

The former left-hander became a top pick to replace Dravid after VVS Laxman, the director of cricket at the Bengaluru-based National Cricket Academy, expressed his unwillingness to take up top post.

Dravid, who had replaced Ravi Shastri after the T20 World Cup in November 2021, was on extension after his two-year tenure ended in the 2023 ODI World Cup.

The former India skipper finally bid adieu after India lifted the T20 World Cup title, their first ICC trophy in 11 years.

It is learnt that Gambhir has sought the services of his Kolkata Knight Riders' academy head Abhishek Nayar to be his assistant coach. Nayar is also a close friend of national ODI and Test skipper Rohit Sharma

Having made his debut for the Indian national team in 2003, Gambhir quickly made an impression with his tenacity and skill as an opener.

However, it was in 2007 that Gambhir's career truly took off. His contributions in the inaugural ICC T20 World Cup were instrumental in India's success and he was the top-scorer in the final against Pakistan, scoring a crucial 75 runs, which helped India lift the trophy.

The pinnacle of Gambhir's career was the 2011 ODI World Cup. Gambhir once again played a match-winning innings in the final, against Sri Lanka.

His 97 runs were crucial in India's successful chase, ultimately leading to India's first World Cup victory in 28 years.

For someone who did not get a chance to show his leadership as skipper, Gambhir proved his captaincy credentials when he turned the fortunes of Kolkata Knight Riders by rebuilding a team and captaining them to their maiden title in 2012.

His coaching skills first came to fore with debutants Lucknow Super Giants as he guided them to the playoffs in both IPL 2022 and 2023 seasons.

But his best came when he reunited with KKR, this time mentoring them to their third title.

Gambhir will nonetheless have huge boots to fill given Dravid's outstanding service as head coach.

Under him, Team India finished as runners-up in the 50-over World Cup last year and the ICC World Test Championship in 2023 in England.

Apart from the team's dominance in bilateral series at home, Dravid's "dedication to nurturing young talent and instilling discipline and sportsmanship in the team" has also been described as exemplary by the BCCI.