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If Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan perform well in South Africa, it will further reduce Gautam Gambhir’s (above) chances of making a comeback © Getty Images

The BCCI selectors excluded Gautam Gambhir from India’s Test squad for the tour of South Africa. Aayush Puthran analyses whether this is indication that it might be the end of the southpaw’s international career.
 
It’s like looking at a clock where the hands are moving slowly than they should. The battery is out of charge. They are already running behind time. If not replaced, the hands are bound to stop moving and time will stand still. Gautam Gambhir’s career, in similar ways, needs a serious stretch of good scores to make any possibility of a comeback in the Indian team. Or else, as it can be seen now, the career is as good as over. The exclusion from the Test squad for the South African tour might well have been the last nail, just hit with a little imperfection, in the coffin. If Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan do perform well in South Africa, in all goodness of Indian cricket, it would be perfectly nailed.
 
And one would wonder where the hope of a comeback will come from. If consistent performances for Wasim Jaffer in the Ranji Trophy for years weren’t good enough for him to get a place at the top of the order for India, inconsistent performances by Gambhir for Delhi isn’t going to offer enough hope for his comeback either.
 
There is little value he brings to the team apart from his batting. He doesn’t bowl, and as a fielder, at best, he is safe; below average if one takes into account the current Indian side. Even with his batting, he doesn’t have the threatening streak of a Virender Sehwag, who can take a game away from the opposition single-handedly on his day. To counter the problems of age and utility, it would need a long run of good scores, especially in crucial matches, for the left-hander to be a serious contender for a place in the national side again.
 
The bowling standards and the pitches in the Indian domestic circuit are mediocre to judge Gambhir’s performances. Maybe a good Indian Premier League (IPL) stint, at the best, would revive his chances of making it to the limited-overs team. Or else, he needs a good run in the English County circuit to be taken seriously. From here on, there is extremely little margin of having a grey patch for him.
 
The better question that arises now is whether, in these circumstances, Gambhir would look at the option of choosing certain formats to concentrate on. If he indeed does, it would lead way for a longer queue of Indian players who are in this phase of having the experience and all the past performances to boast of, yet aren’t good enough in the current scheme of things. It isn’t really a trend in the country as yet, but with a batch almost completely phased out, with still a few years of cricket left in them; it might be an option that they would look at.
 
Meanwhile, the Indian selectors continue to show that they are bold with the decision making.
 
(Aayush Puthran is a reporter with CricketCountry. Mercurially jovial, pseudo pompous, perpetually curious and occasionally confused, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of filter kaapi!)