It would be a huge mistake to rest Gautam Gambhir against Australia

It would it be unwise to rest a player who has anchored two successful and successive run-chases © Getty Images

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

 

The unbending Indian rotation policy doesn’t seem to encompass the changing situations. Going by the pattern and the logic of the policy, the in-form opener Gautam Gambhir is set to warm the bench when India play Australia at Brisbane. Sachin Tendulkar’s resting was met with much criticism and furore, but it is Gambhir’s impending rotation which seems more obtuse. With the series still open, would it be wise to rest a player who has anchored two successful and successive run-chases?

 

During India’s first two One-Day Internationals (ODIs) in the tri-series, their batting exhibited frailty and brittleness. Despite Tendulkar’s decent knock against Sri Lanka at Perth, he had to make way for Gambhir for India’s next game – adhering to the rotation policy. The move to include Gambhir produced rich dividends as he has performed in both games since then. Since he has entered the fray, India’s batting has looked more solid as he has held one end and done kept the runs flowing. The results India produced in the last two matches wouldn’t have been possible without his contributions.

 

Resting Gambhir for the next game to keep the rigid policy going doesn’t make. He would make way for Virender Sehwag – someone who has struggled to make a mark on this tour. There still is a lot to play for in this series for India and it wouldn’t be wise to bench a player who has been a match winner in the previous games. Benching Gambhir would expose the fragile Indiabatting.

Flawed reasoning for the rotation policy

We want to give chance to youngsters. The next World Cup is here, all the youngsters this way can play and get used to the conditions here,” said Sehwag in defence of the rotation policy. It didn’t seem very convincing as the said tournament is still some distance away. The immediate focus should be to win the tri-series and field the best combination for the same without chopping and changing too much.

 

The very basis of the said scheme seems to be flawed from the very outset. Dhoni justified it by saying that it is to give Rohit Sharma a run in the side and allow him the opportunities to perform.  All of this for a player who has been the man of the series in two of India’s assignments last year – one just before the Australia tour. It is good to see Dhoni backing the youngster. However, the statements give one the impression that the think tank still believes that Rohit isn’t assured of his place in the eleven. Going by his previous performances, he should be a certainty in the line-up and his status shouldn’t be in limbo.

 

Rohit Sharma vs Suresh Raina

 

It is surprising that the Indian team management view Suresh Raina as a certainty. Since the World Cup, Rohit has performed better than Raina, but still the latter seems to be the first preference. Here are the important stats:

 

Player

M

Runs

Avg

50s

Rohit Sharma

15

641

64.10

6

Suresh Raina

24

611

29.09

4

 

Considering Raina bats in the lower middle order, the average of 29.09 is decent. However, if Sehwag finds form and the team has to play him along with Tendulkar and Gambhir, Rohit should be retained on the power of those numbers. He may not have made a big score in this series, but has been in fantastic touch coming into the Australia tour. However, if Raina makes a big impression in the coming games, it would be very difficult to ignore him.

 

The long break away from game time during the Test series has clearly broken Rohit’s rhythm. At Adelaide there were signs of him getting back into top groove. The murderous pull shot he played off Mitchell Starc (4th ODI vs Australia) gave one the impression that he was seeing the ball well. However, an unwanted shot (4th ODI) and an ill-judged single (5th ODI vs Sri Lanka) ended his march.

 

Since the West Indies tour of 2011, Rohit is fulfilling his potential at the international level and has played numerous match-winning knocks. For this very reason, he should be handled with care so that he doesn’t fall into a dangerous rut of being in and out of the side.

 

If there is anyone who deserves to reap the benefits of the rotation policy it is Manoj Tiwary. Despite that hundred against West Indies at Chennai, he hasn’t found a place in the playing eleven since then. His six ODIs have been spread over four years which indicates that he has been given sporadic opportunities to make a mark. The game against West Indies at Chennai was one such occasion. He delivered big time and yet isn’t being considered for a game.

 

Keeping all these facts in perspective India clearly need to loosen up their rigid formula!

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya, a 21-year-old law student, is a club and college-level cricketer. His teachers always complain, “He knows the stats and facts of cricket more than the subjects we teach him.”)