Is this the ‘end of the road’ for Gambhir : Kannaur Lokesh Rahul, who was injured while playing in the first Test against New Zealand at Kanpur, in the recently concluded home series against New Zealand, and had to be left out for the first two Tests in the ongoing home series against England, has been asked to join the national squad for the second Test to be played at Vishakapatnam.
Rahul has clearly justified his recall to the squad by proving his match fitness when he went on to score 76 runs and 106 runs in the two innings of the Ranji Trophy game against Rajasthan at Vijayanagaram.
Speaking to Sportstar Live, the 24-year old said, “I”m feeling really good. You can spend time in the gym, but you never know if your body is fully healed until you play a few games. This game (against Rajasthan) has helped me gain confidence.”
“The NCA physio is here to make sure that I”m moving well. If the need arises, I can take his help. We want to be 100% sure that I”m fit when I come back. It doesn”t make sense for me to come back into the team and then get injured again. The team combination and the mood in the dressing room changes when this happens,” he added.
This means that the current Indian squad has 16 players and, in all probabilities, Gautam Gambhir may be axed following his dismal performance in the first Test at Rajkot, in which he scored 29 runs in the first innings and failed to open his account in the second.
At 35 years and 32 days, Gautam Gambhir is no youngster. However, his fitness levels would put any youngster to shame.
Leading India Blue in the tournament, he had scores of 77, 90, 59, 94 and 36 in the five innings that he had featured, totalling 356 runs at an average of 71.20 which is really very impressive. He successfully led his team to the title win defeating India Red by a huge margin of 355 runs.
Gambhir’s performance in the Duleep Trophy 2016 clearly caught the attraction of the ‘wise men’ in BCCI, who wasted no time in picking the ‘young’ Gambhir as the replacement for the young KLRahul, for the second Test against the recently concluded home series against New Zealand that was played at Eden Gardens, Kolkata. Rahul had picked up a hamstring injury while running between the wickets in the first Test at Kanpur.
Making a ‘comeback’ into the Test Team after a gap of a little over two years, would have been like ‘homecoming’ for the southpaw.
Gambhir last played in the longer format in the fifth and final Test against England in the 2014 Investec Series, a game that Gambhir would definitely not like to recall. He failed to open his account in the first innings and scored just 3 runs in the second knock, post which he was dropped.
Thus far, the stylish left-hander has featured in 56 matches (104 innings – unbeaten on five occasions) and has scored 4,154 runs at a decent average of 41.95 with 206 runs as his individual best. He also has 9 centuries and 22 half-centuries to his credit.
Prior to his being dropped for the first time in 2012, Gambhir and the ‘swashbuckling’ batsman, Virendra Sehwag were the ‘deadliest’ opening pair in world cricket. Together they had amassed 4,412 runs which is the best ‘opening pair’ contribution for Team India in Test matches.
But as luck would have it, the team ‘think tank’ decided to include Shikhar Dhawan in Playing XI.
However, fortune smiled on Gambhir. At the back of Dhawan’s failure in both the innings at Kolkata, he (Gambhir) got the nod.
The expectation from Gambhir was very high. He was making a comeback to the Test squad after two years and age was also not on his side.
In the first innings he just managed to score 29 runs but he made up in the second innings by registering his 22nd Test half ton. Being at the crease for 88 minutes he scored 50 runs with the help of 6 fours.
This knock, coupled with Rahul’s injury, helped him being selected for the England series. He had a wonderful opportunity in front of him to justify his selection.
Ironically, Gambhir failed to live upto the confidence reposed on him.
This recall of Rahul into the national squad, backed by his Ranji performance might act detrimental to Gambhir’s continuance with the team.
It was a golden opportunity for the southpaw that went a-begging and he would have only himself to blame for this.
What would be his status in future is something to wait and watch for. With many youngsters “knocking at the door’, Gambhir’s chances of entering the Indian dressing room seems very remote.
Is this the end of Gambhir’s international career?
Only time will tell.