India doesn't need to panic over openers' poor form: Anshuman Gaekwad

Feb 01, 2014, 09:10 IST | Dhananjay Roy

Openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan should be given a long rope despite failures, feels former India coach

Fortunes change and how. Only till a couple of months ago, fans were celebrating the sustained success of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. They seemed to do no wrong at the top of the order in the one-day format, and collected bags-full of runs in Tests in their respective positions.

Rohit Sharma

In a matter of a few months, the duo had consigned the illustrious combination of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir to the sidelines and followers of Indian cricket were basking in the glory of their exploits. But, it has taken only two months, and a couple of short tours to South Africa and New Zealand, to provide millions of fans a reality check.

Shikhar Dhawan.Pic/AFP.

Rohit and Dhawan have struggled to meet the challenges posed in these two countries, and suddenly the Indian think-tank is left wondering whether the duo will survive the mammoth tests that are likely to follow throughout 2014 en route to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand early next year.

Opening blues in NZ
Rohit managed a total of 145 runs in five innings at an average of 29 against the Kiwis while Shikhar fared worse with a paltry 81 off four innings at the rate of 20.25. Needless to say, their failure to click was one of the many reasons that the visitors were thrashed 4-0 in the series that concluded yesterday.

Anshuman Gaekwad

They were clearly struggling to adapt to the conditions in Napier, Hamilton, Auckland and Wellington and it showed in their shot-selection. The story was no different in Johannesburg and Durban in December and one is left wondering whether MS Dhoni and the selectors have their task cut out.

“It was collective failure and it would not be right to blame individual players,” former India coach Anshuman Gaekwad told MiD DAY yesterday. “You just can’t turn up in countries like New Zealand, South Africa and Australia and hope to begin firing from Day One,” he added. “They were clearly not acclimatised to the conditions there.”

Virat Kohli (291 runs at an average of 58.2) and Dhoni (272 runs at an average of 68) were the best Indian performers in the five-match contest while Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin played cameos. The rest of the lot never rose to the occasion leading to the fear that India could once again have to re-think their team composition.

“As far as the openers are concerned, they are talented enough to adapt to challenging conditions. I don’t think we need to panic. They should just give themselves enough time in the middle,” explained Gaekwad.

But, given the trying circumstances, would it be prudent to explore other options, like bringing Sehwag and Gambhir back into the loop? “Well, you certainly can’t have 20 players in the team. And either ways, to get back into the Indian squad players have to score heavily at least in the domestic tournaments. Has that happened?” Gaekwad remarked.

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