Putting his weight behind Virender Sehwag, Delhi's Ranji captain Gautam Gambhir said it is unfair to solely blame the opener's poor form for the team's early ouster from the Ranji Trophy.
Sehwag's wretched form with the bat has been a talking point this Ranji season in which he has scored 234 runs at an average of less than 20 in 13 innings.
"Look, had each and everyone of us performed at the same time, then Delhi would have been in contention for winning the Ranji Trophy," Gambhir said. "While Viru didn't exactly have a great season, it can happen in sport. That's the beauty of the game. It was Mithun's (Manhas) and my responsibility to carry the team forward. Actually what cost us is one bad innings against Punjab when we didn't get a big lead. Just to blame Viru for Delhi's failure to qualify for knock-outs is not right," he added.
Gambhir also defended his decision to field Haryana player Navdeep Saini for Delhi. "Those who have questioned my decision to play Navdeep should check how many players in the past have played for Delhi not belonging to the state," Gambhir said on the back of criticism he faced for selecting a non-Delhi cricketer. "I don't wish to comment about what some individuals had to say. For me, it is important whether the player is valuable to the team or not," he added.
Former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi had led the chorus against the selection of Navdeep, who picked five wickets in two low-scoring Ranji Trophy matches. "I don't know what Bishan 'paaji' had said and would rather not get into it. I only know that I saw the kid (Navdeep), who till two years back used to play tennis-ball cricket, bowling well at the nets," Gambhir said.
"I found that the boy is talented and needed a chance. It didn't matter to me if he was from Delhi or not. Only thing mattered was that I felt that he can add value to the side. Also, I don't wish to name but there were former players who played for other states and had nothing to do with Delhi cricket. But later they came and played for Delhi and no one found anything wrong," an aggrieved Gambhir said.
The former India opener also spoke about his stint on the English County circuit, where he featured for Essex last season. "It was a good time to play County cricket when I went there. The wickets were result-oriented and it helped playing 96 overs of competitive cricket. I love my whites and it was great learning experience. That helped me score a century against West Indies A," Gambhir said.
Gambhir also paid tribute to legendary South African all-rounder and Kolkata Knight Riders teammate Jacques Kallis, who retired from Test cricket after the two-Test series against India. "I have shared some unbelievable times with Jacques (Kallis) in the KKR dressing room. He is not a legend because of the records he has has broken, but because of the selfless attitude with which he played the game," Gambhir said.