At a time when the Indian selectors were looking for a suitable partner for Virender Sehwag up the order, they zeroed in on Gautam Gambhir for his class and form. And the Delhi opener justified his selection and continues to be the best option available.
But Gambhir's skill of converting small scores into big ones has taken a nosedive. Gambhir, who has scored nine centuries including a double in his 44-Test career, has not been able to touch the three-figure mark in the last 22 months, though it cannot be said that his form has slumped, given that he has been getting 50s and 60s quite regularly.
The Delhi southpaw, who was yet again dismissed after reaching his half century (55), hit his last Test century against Bangladesh in Chittagong on January 17, 2010. His 116 there helped India post a resounding 113-run victory over the minnows. Since then, he has registered eight 50-plus scores including a well-made 93 against South Africa in Cape Town earlier this year.
Former India opener turned commentator Arun Lal couldn't pin-point a reason for Gambhir's situation. "I cannot put a fix on it, but there may be several reasons, one of which may the influence of too much Twenty20 and limited-overs cricket," Arun Lal told MiD DAY yesterday.
"His main scoring area has been the third man region where he nudges the ball quite often. That is actually a T20 habit, but also an area where he gets maximum runs. But the danger is when you nudge the ball, a slight miscalculation can lead to an easy edge to the slips. In fact, he could have been dismissed that way even today," Arun Lal remarked.
But he refused to believe that the Delhi opener is out of form. "You cannot say he has lost his form, particularly after his scores of 50-plus on numerous occasions. Also, you have to keep in mind that he scored seven centuries in 2008-09," he stated.
According to Arun Lal, this has happened to many, including Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. "If you remember Rahul's 136 against England in Mohali in 2008... it was not a Dravid-like innings and he got a hundred after some time, but after that, he scored 10 centuries. These things happen and you should stop worrying," he said.
Gambhir though is not losing sleep. "Yes, I haven't scored a century, but I've been in good nick and it's just a matter of time before I reach the three-figure mark." Gambhir told MiD DAY.
According to Arun Lal, this has happened to many, including sachin and Dravid: "If you remember Rahul's 136 against England in Mohali in 2008. he got a hundred after some time, but after that, he has scored