New Delhi: Their cricketing epitaph has been written by all and sundry but a day after being omitted from the World Cup probables' list, it was business as usual for Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir as they trained at the Delhi team's nets with deadpan expressions on their faces.
The ageing duo looked like members of a 'lonely planet' at the picturesque Roshanara Club ground where the other members of the Delhi team were going through the paces.
While all the other members wore whites (a custom followed by lot of teams to get into the groove), these two were wearing colourful track suits. The 'difference' in every aspect was palpable.
They have been champions in their own rights and no one can deny that any kind of rejection hurts a performer's ego. Gambhir spoke to the small group of reporters present but only after clarifying that he doesn't want to speak on World Cup and will stick to Delhi's Ranji Trophy preparations.
Gambhir's fascination for playing home games at seamer-friendly Roshanara is well-known and the reason he gave was no different from what has been heard already.
"I know it's better to play on batting friendly tracks (Feroz Shah Kotla) but what's the use of scoring 800 runs if your team doesn't qualify for knock-outs. Batsmen can set up matches but it's the bowlers who will have to take 20 wickets to win matches. The Roshanara strip gives me an option to play five specialist bowlers," Gambhir spoke in reference to Delhi's opening Ranji Trophy encounter against Saurashtra,starting Sunday.
Sehwag didn't even wait that long. Did his usual round of batting at the nets, had a rub down in the dressing room and before anyone knew left the ground before all his teammates entered the confines of the dressing room.
At the nets, he was in a mood to hit everything out of sight -- most of which didn't connect well but interestingly the last shot -- an inside-out lofted shot over covers that broke the window pane of the private club's library.
In between there was old guard Sumeet Narwal and young Navdeep Saini, who troubled Sehwag with seam movement. Once through with his batting, Sehwag did some slip catching practice. The expression on his face didn't give away anything. His batting position according to his captain will be the "middle-order".
For Gambhir, speaking about Ranji preparations was more an act of obliging the handful of scribes present as one could sense that he had to push himself about answering questions.
He spoke about giving juniors a "secure dressing room environment".
"There are a lot of juniors in the side and my aim as a captain would be to give them a secure dressing room environment. Whether you are playing junior cricket or Ranji Trophy, a secured dressing room environment is key to a team's success," said left-hander.
It's futile trying to gauge what's going on in their minds but come Sunday, it will be the start of the most difficult battle for one of the most celebrated opening pairs of Indian cricket.