India, Pakistan greats call time on careers

India's Gautam Gambhir and Pakistan's Mohammad Hafeez seperately announced their retirements on the same day


5 December 2018, 07:45 AM AEST

Two key opening batsmen from the subcontinent have called stumps on their respective careers, with India's Gautam Gambhir and Pakistan's Mohammad Hafeez separately announcing their retirements on the same day.

Struggling Pakistan opener Hafeez said he would retire from Test cricket after the ongoing third and final match against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi.

The 38-year-old has managed just 66 runs in seven innings since scoring a hundred against Australia in Dubai last month following his Test recall after two years away.

The Abu Dhabi Test is Hafeez's 55th since making his debut against Bangladesh in 2003. He has so far scored 3644 runs with 10 hundreds and 12 half centuries, with the chance to add to that in his second innings in this Test.

Hafeez celebrates recall with comeback ton

"I feel time is up. I am announcing my retirement and feel happy that I worked hard in my career," said Hafeez, who has also played 203 one-day internationals and 89 Twenty20s.

"I had been thinking of retiring from Tests for the last two weeks and thought that now is the time to leave the five-day format but I will continue to play limited-over matches."

Indian opener and World Cup hero Gambhir announced his retirement from all forms of cricket, finally heeding voices that were telling him "it's over".

Gambhir, who played a key role in two of India's World Cup triumphs, will play his final domestic Ranji Trophy game for his home team Delhi starting Thursday.

The 37-year-old Gambhir, an attacking yet compact left-handed batsman, accumulated 4154 runs in 58 Test matches since making his debut in 2004 against Australia.

He also represented India in 147 ODIs and 37 Twenty20 matches.

But Gambhir, who formed a successful opening pair with Virender Sehwag until 2012, started to lose favour with the selectors and last played a Test against England in 2016. 

"The thought has been with me day and has accompanied me to practice sessions, mocking at me like a menacing bowler," Gambhir said in a video message on social media.

"Each time I got out playing for India, or KKR (Kolkata Knight Riders) or Delhi Daredevils, this thought would turn into a sharp disturbing noise and walk with me all the way to the dressing room shouting that 'it is over Gauti'," he added.

Gambhir was part of India's 2007 win at the inaugural World T20 and played a pivotal role in the team's 50-over World Cup triumph in 2011.

The Delhi native, who was part of the Indian team that rose to the number one Test spot in 2009, led Indian Premier League (IPL) side Knight Riders to two titles in 2012 and 2014.

"This may sound a little wishful but I've seen wishes come true. Two World Cups, highest run-getter in the final of both of these games is the stuff dreams are made of," Gambhir said.

"Somewhere on the top is being the No. 1 Test team in the world. A trophy I'll look at very fondly is the one I got for being awarded the ICC best Test batsman of the year in 2009. For a purist like me, it is a reward for somewhat knowing where my off stump was.

Gambhir and his prized ICC trophy // Getty
Gambhir and his prized ICC trophy // Getty

"The historic series win in NZ and the VB series in Australia will be reflected upon fondly. But I do hope the current Indian team Down Under can overshadow our feats."

Gambhir went on to thank his coaches, teammates and family members for standing by him and said his most meaningful partnership was with the supporters of Indian cricket.

Hafeez's early career was marked by off-and-on performances before he settled in the team in 2011. 

His top score of 224 came against Bangladesh in Khulna in 2015 but he struggled in England the following year and was dropped.

Hafeez said he was not forced into retirement.

"This is my own decision," said Hafeez, after falling for nought on the second day of the third Test. "I had conveyed the decision to Pakistan Cricket Board and the selection committee."

Hafeez came back after a two-year gap in October, notching a brilliant 126 against Australia in Dubai but he has struggled since. 

Also an off-break bowler, Hafeez took 53 Test wickets but his career as bowler was marred by questions over the legality of his bowling action.

His action was reported on three separate occasions, the last in October last year. After the second report of his action in August 2014 Hafeez was banned from bowling at international level for 12 months.

Hafeez said he was satisfied with his Test career.

"I am satisfied with what I have achieved," said Hafeez. "As an opener I worked hard and maintained a standard, so I am proud to have served my country."