Gautam Gambhir played two matches in the five-match Test series and scored only 25 runs © Getty Images
Gautam Gambhir scored a total of 25 runs in his four innings on the ongoing tour to England. Brought in as a back-up opener, with experience behind him, Gambhir failed to live up to the expectations of the selectors. At the age of 32, Gambhir may have played his last Test, writes Nishad Pai Vaidya.
Gautam Gambhir’s secret to success had been his intensity and remarkable fighting spirit. Repeated failures at the highest level early in his career did not deter him as he kept fighting for his spot. He returned a changed man in 2008, with a more compact technique and an insatiable hunger. A golden run ensued as he went on to become India’s mainstay. Knocks on the biggest of stages — the finals at the 2007 World T20 and 2011 World Cup — were proof of his inner strength. However, the summer of 2014 may have heralded an end to his Test career with another poor game at The Oval.
Many experts had voiced their surprise at Gambhir’s selection as the third opener for this tour of England. Though he was dropped from the Test side before the Australia series last year, he was in the scheme of things as he played for India A a few times. During the Ranji Trophy he was not amongst the highest run-scorers, but averaged about 44. As a vote of confidence, MS Dhoni said that Gambhir remained their third opener and the southpaw was then picked for the Rest of India side. The selectors wanted to bank on experience in the phase of transition.
Gambhir’s comeback has been nothing short of a nightmare. A tour that started off with a fifty in the tour game has ended with an embarrassing run-out at The Oval. In both games, he did not look a part of the Indian plan. The dismissals were the same with the edges going to slip. He was hoping to good length deliveries and was exposed on numerous occasions. It wasn’t the same man who battled for hours at Napier to win a Test for India. This was his trial by fire to resurrect his international career and he has failed.
It has not been about the scores either: the manner in which Gambhir has been dismissed has been disconcerting. In the first innings at Old Trafford he had edged one to gully. In the second he tickled one down the leg-side. At The Oval, he couldn’t get his bat out of the way in time in the first innings and went for a casual stroll, only to be run out in his final outing on the tour.
Talk about the series to come. India will host the West Indies a few months down the line and they would back Murali Vijay to come good. Even Shikhar Dhawan may walk in given the fact that he would relish playing on home surfaces. Thereafter, India are to travel to Australia and it is unlikely that they would go back to Gambhir for that tour. It may even be possible that they may look for other options during the home series in the likes of KL Rahul, Jiwanjot Singh or even Robin Uthappa, who were on the India A tour to Australia recently. Thus, if Gambhir has to return to the international fold, he would need some serious luck coming his way.
Complete coverage of India’s tour of England 2014
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)