It was a collapse that was most inexplicable and astonishing. Having packed their side with batsmen, India’s horror show with the bat defied logic as wickets fell like ninepins. The openers – Gautam Gambhir and Ajinkya Rahane – laid a solid platform, but everything fell apart thereafter. Rahane was the aggressor and took the attack to the bowlers. However, Gambhir was scratchy and struggled to keep pace with the proceedings. His innings of 43 may look good in context of the Indian collapse, but it was slow by T20 international standards.
Gambhir is an orthodox batsman who sticks to his natural game for success. Over the years, he has been successful in T20 cricket by playing normal cricketing shots and that is what has made him stand out. He can absorb pressure well and that allowed him to play a crucial role in India’s win at the 2007 ICC World T20. However, in the last few T20 internationals, Gambhir has looked tentative and has not been able to force the issue.
The numbers reflect Gambhir’s struggle. And it is shocking considering the kind of a player he is.
The numbers reflect Gambhir’s struggle and it is shocking considering the kind of a player he is. Here is his record in T20 cricket since the T20 against New Zealand in September. Since then, India have played the 2012 ICC World T20 in Sri Lanka, a series against England and the first T20 against Pakistan.
The strike-rate of 98.14 is well below par for T20s and it has been a struggle that has lasted nine games now. Of those 159 runs, he has scored 88 of them in two innings – 45 against England at Colombo and the 43 against Pakistan at Bangalore. Take that out of the equation and he has only 71 to show in the other seven matches.
A sub-100 strike-rate is what is most worrisome as he comes in at the top and has the responsibility of giving India a good start. If he gets bogged down, the pressure automatically spills on the other batsmen and it is left to them to attack. In the T20 against Bangalore, Gambhir looked good in patches, but it was all at sea early on. Even in the T20 against England at Mumbai, he wasn’t in his elements and scored a painstaking 17 off 27 balls.
During the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2012, Gambhir was instrumental in taking Kolkata Knight Riders to victory. He was their mainstay at the top and almost single-handedly led their charge when the other batsmen weren’t able to find consistency. What was most surprising was that he finished the tournament with a strike-rate of 143.55 – a number that is much higher than his overall career figure.
The norm in T20 cricket is a strike-rate over 120 and Gambhir has maintained that throughout his career. However, his performance during the IPL was absolutely fantastic as he took a more attacking approach. In fact, he was destructive as he fearlessly charged the bowlers. He didn’t try anything extraordinary, but played good cricketing shots.
That tournament showed that Gambhir could score at a fantastic rate without taking out and out risks. He has run into a rough-patch off late, and the sooner he gets out of it the better. India have one more T20 International against Pakistan at Ahmedabad – with the opportunity to level things. They need Gambhir of the old to come to the party.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst, anchor and voice-over artist for the site’s YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He has also participated on live TV talk-shows on cricket. Nishad can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nishad_44)