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KL Rahul gets nod for Vizag Test ahead of Gautam Gambhir: Is it curtains for the Delhi Southpaw?

gautamThe unsung hero of 2011 World Cup final, Gautam Gambhir’s fantastic career probably hit a dead end after he got out for a duck in the second innings of the first Test in the Paytm Test series against England. After a 108 ball 29 in the first innings, the bare duck came like the final nail in the coffin, almost ensuring a non-negotiable end to the old-timer’s career.

A high beaming career with 4154 Test runs in 58 Test matches, 5238 One Day international runs in 147 One Day internationals and 932 T20 international runs in 37 T20 internationals proves how much significant Gambhir’s career has been to Indian cricket. Gambhir is the only Indian and one of four international cricketers to have scored five hundreds in five consecutive Test matches. Not just for India, Gambhir has been performing quite well in Indian Premier League for Kolkata Knight Riders, despite handling the cap of captaincy.

Gautam Gambhir made his ODI debut against Bangladesh in the TVS Cup in 2003 under the captaincy of Saurav Ganguly. In 2004, he made his Test debut against Australia in the fourth and last Test match of the Border Gavaskar Trophy but did himself no favours by getting out for 3 and 1. He amended his game in the second Test, thus adding some weight to his career. His maiden Test century came against Bangladesh in December 2004. He always tried to make some impact in the opening few overs of the game, but was not quite successful in all matches. He repeatedly struggled against Sri Lanka, and was subsequently dropped from the Test squad. He was then replaced by Wasim Jaffer, while he continued to represent India in the 50 overs format of the game.

However, he was dropped from the Indian ODI squad for World Cup 2007 as the selectors decided to go with the experienced trio, Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly and Virender Shewag. That jolted his career up a lot and made him think of even quitting the game. But the first round exit from the World Cup left the selectors no choice but to give Gambhir another shot. He was quite flamboyant with his wood this time, ensuring a spot for himself in the Indian squad for the maiden T20 World Cup. Gambhir played some magnificent innings in the World Cup, which includes his fantastic knock of 75 runs off 54 balls in the final against Pakistan, ending as the leading run getter for India with 227 with an average of 37.83.

In 2008 Gambhir finally solidified his place in the Indian Test team with a string of high scores. He scored tons of runs, including a double century in the Border-Gavaskar trophy against Australia. But the test became a controversial one after he elbowed Shane Watson and got a one match ban. He started his proper campaign outside the sub-continent against New Zealand in 2009 and scored gallons of runs thereafter in each and every Test match he played. He was awarded the ICC Test player of the year in 2009 and was briefly ranked the No. 1 batsman in the ICC rankings. He went on playing spectacular knocks for India thereafter showing what a valuable asset he is to the team. In the final of the Cricket World Cup 2011, Gambhir scored a solid knock of 97 from 122 balls. Coming in to bat in the first over after the dismissal of Virender Shewag, he anchored the Indian inning despite the early dismissal of both the openers. He had a good partnership first with Virat Kohli, and then a match-winning partnership of 109 runs with MS Dhoni.

Gambhir has been struggling for a few years to get his fixed spot in Indian squad. After his cold war with Dhoni and ‘feud’ with Kohli in IPL it became quite tough for him to cement his position in the team. Like other veterans of the famous ‘Men in Blue’ team, Gambhir also couldn’t avoid the scoop of termination. Moreover, the reigning youngsters in the domestic format made it a bit tougher for him to clinch a spot in the squad.

But his performance in first class career and Ranji Trophy and the absence of successful debutant opener KL Rahul due to injury compelled the selectors to go for Gambhir again for the Test series against New Zealand. Even the social media came in support for the southpaw, praising his great aptitude for the game and side by side mocking the selectors for finally acknowledging his merit.

While the entire media was busy speculating about how dramatic Gambhir’s comeback will be in the 5-day format of the game, it was until the third Test match in Indore Gambhir got a chance to show his charisma. But to our surprise, Gambhir was unable to make his mark on the pitch in the last Test, other than scoring a handy knock of 56-ball half century in the second innings, on a flat pitch, against a non-virulent Kiwi bowling attack.

Still he was picked up for the next India vs England Test series as the selectors thought of giving him another opportunity to show his hunger for runs, but that couldn’t make any difference in the scenario. Other than scoring a bare 29 in the first innings of the first Test match, it was just a duck waiting for Gambhir in the second innings, that made it quite easy for his fans to understand the fact that it’s time to prepare themselves for his farewell party. Finally, the news, that KL Rahul has recovered from his hamstring injury and is back in the squad for the next Test match against England, raises the question that, “Has the Gambhir era finally come to an end?”

Only time can answer. Gambhir has undergone quite a lot of peaks and meadows in his career and we hope that he will get over the rough patch soon, before even it causes fatal damage to him. Good news is that, whatever happens, we will continue watching him in action in IPL and Ranji Trophy.