Gautam Gambhir last featured in a Test match a year ago when England had India on the ropes enroute their 2-1 win in the four-match series. It was a triumph that the English will cherish for a very long time, especially for the fact that it was achieved after 28 years.
While Alastair Cook & Co have gone from strength-to-strength thereafter — the huge drubbing in the opening Ashes Test in Brisbane not withstanding — things went downhill for the versatile Indian opener, who enjoyed tremendous success between 2008 and 2011.
Of late, the Delhi skipper seems to have turned a corner in the Ranji Trophy, but the Indian selectors aren’t too convinced about his return to form, as was evident from the fact that he has been excluded from the Test and ODI squads that will tour South Africa next month.
Gambhir scored a brilliant 153 against Haryana last week, raising hopes of a India comeback, but that was not to be. Critics are not easily swayed by the tons that are scored in the domestic circuit, but this was a hundred difficult to ignore, given that fact that it was compiled on a track which had considerable support for the bowlers.
“I am really surprised by Gautam’s omission from the Test squad for South Africa tour,” former Delhi stalwart and selector Hari Gidwani told
“I felt he would make it to the team as he is back in form and compiled a terrific century on a green top at Roshanara Club. What’s more, the wicket was also damp on the first day, making it even more difficult for the batsmen. That’s why his knock was so impressive,” he added.
Gidwani had gone to watch the game especially to see Virender Sehwag and Gambhir in action and was mighty impressed by Gambhir’s innings. “There has never been any doubt about Gautam’s class. The only issue was his form and he has been consistent in the Ranji Trophy. So I am not sure why he was left out,” he said.
In the three games thus far, Gambhir leads the batting charts for Delhi with 372 runs at an average of 74.4. Gidwani felt experience is going to play a vital role in South African conditions against probably the world’s best pace attack, and that’s where Gambhir could have done justice to his spot. “In South Africa, you need an opening batsman who is adept at both attacking and defending.
And Gautam fits in perfectly. He is a good judge of situations and would not have got bogged down even if their pacers were bowling well.” One is not sure what the future holds for the 32-year-old, but given the fact that India are scheduled to play a total of 13 Tests in SA, New Zealand, England and Australia in the next one year, his services could be called for sooner than later. For, the likes of Murali Vijay have to play well above their potential to counter the likes of Dale Steyn.
Test squad for SA tour
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain/wicketkeeper), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kolhi, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, Zaheer Khan, Ambati Rayudu, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain/wicketkeeper), Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ambati Rayudu, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra