Though Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir (4110 runs in 81 innings) are just 63 runs away from Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly (4173 runs in 71 innings) in becoming India’s No 2 batting pair in Test cricket, the Indian openers are enduring a rough ride at the moment. For the record, Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid (6920 runs) are India’s No 1 batting pair.
With the four-Test series against England starting on Thursday, the Delhi duo got down to business during India’s three-day camp which ended yesterday at the Brabourne Stadium.
There is no doubt that Team India would be heavily relying on Sehwag and Gambhir to fire at the top. India have failed to dominate whenever their partnership has been broken early. But the opening blues have been hurting team’s fortunes in Tests. One of the major factors in Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s poor run at Test level is the failure of Sehwag and Gambhir.
It has been 20 innings since the openers have put up a century partnership.
Sehwag-Gambhir’s last century stand came during the first Test against South Africa at SuperSport Park, Centurion during the three-Test series in 2010-11.
Though the pair averages 52.69 in Tests (a fact highlighted by Gambhir in a recent interview), the pressure is clearly mounting especially after the Sandeep Patil-headed new selection panel included Murali Vijay as a back-up opener in the squad. Sehwag and Gambhir have been getting good starts in India, but haven’t been able to drum up big partnerships.
During the three-Test series against West Indies in November last year, the duo got four 50-plus starts. In India’s last Test series at home against New Zealand, Sehwag and Gambhir provided a 77-run opening stand in the second innings of the last Test at Bangalore. In the first Test, they put on 49 in India’s solitary innings in Hyderabad.
Sehwag and Gambhir batted with a fixed plan during Team India’s preparatory camp for the England series. Though most batsmen went over the top at times, it seemed a no-no for Gambhir and Sehwag especially while they faced the pacers.
The duo batted for nearly an hour on all the three days. Yesterday, they opted to face 15-20 balls in one go before giving each other a chance. While Gambhir concentrated on his timing, Sehwag was seen making a conscious effort in improving his shot selection. The Nawab of Najafgarh has been criticised often for playing rash shots too early in his innings. Sehwag ensured he played along the ground and worked towards bettering his hand-eye coordination.
They later chatted with coach Duncan Fletcher. While Gambhir batted for another 30 minutes in the nets, Sehwag was seen carefully analysing his session in the middle with video analyst Dhananjay.
Meanwhile, batting legend Sachin Tendulkar batted for nearly two hours yesterday, his longest stint in the three-day camp. The record-breaking batsman gave enough indication of his fine touch by trying all shots.
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