Chennai: BCCI chairman Krishnamachai Srikkanth believes that Gautam Gambhir's match-saving innings in Napier was a crucial one for the left-handed opener.
Gambhir batted for almost 11 hours and faced a massive 436 deliveries for his 137, as he ground down New Zealand's bowlers and secured the draw that kept India ahead in the three-match Test series.
The 27-year-old has a magnificent record over the past year when he has cemented his place at the top of the order alongside Virender Sehwag, and Srikkanth feels that the Napier innings exhibited the batsman's step up in class.
"Gautam has come of age. He has now become a complete batsman," Srikkanth told the Indian Express. "For the last couple of years he has been pretty consistent. But this Test saw him raise his game several notches.
"I don't think he has made any technical adjustments. But now he watches the ball more closely and till the end. He has tightened his off-side game, especially leaving deliveries outside the off stump. His judgement as far as the corridor of uncertainty goes is a lot better."
Gambhir's association with Sehwag has been a lucrative one, with the duo finishing amongst the top run-getters in 2008 in all three forms of the game, including the Indian Premier League where they formed a devastating partnership for the Delhi Daredevils.
Srikkanth believes that some of Gambhir's development has come as a direct result of his time in the middle with Sehwag.
"You don't grow into a job overnight. Everybody matures with time. He was always a very capable strokeplayer, but now he has proved that he can bury his head into the ground and guide the team to safety. He is a great player in the making.
"He might not have had a very good Test in Napier, but make no mistake, over the years he has contributed immensely to help Gautam develop his game. Together, they are the best opening combination in world cricket at the moment."