Opening blues: Sehwag and Gambhir have to fire if India need to do well in T20 World Cup

Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir are amongst the greatest openers India have produced and combine into one of the most dangerous opening partnerships in the last few years in world cricket, across all formats, says a report in The Times Of India, adding that amongst the top six opening pairs in terms of runs in international cricket, this pair is the only one to have managed a 50-plus average (52.69 in Tests and 51.74 in ODIs).

“However, in the 18-month period since the 2011 World Cup, the duo seems to have lost their mojo. The Delhi pair's opening average of 54.90 has dropped to 50.32. And that seems to be hurting Indian cricket big time. Sample this: In 17 partnerships for the first wicket this year, Gambhir and Sehwag have aggregated 379 at an average of 22.29, including two fifties,” says the TOI report, adding that in this period, Gambhir has aggregated just 1044 runs in 26 games @ 37.28, while Sehwag has been worse, with 500 runs in 17 games @ 23.80.

“Gambhir at least has a couple of fifties and seven hundreds against his name in this phase, while Sehwag just has a couple of fifties to talk about. They have been 'consistently inconsistent.' To make matters worse, there were rumours that both were embroiled in a rift with skipper MS Dhoni,” says the report.

Since the World Cup triumph last year, Sehwag, 33, has hit just one hundred, which was the record 219 against West Indies in an ODI at Indore. His average in this period is a lowly 31.25, while Gambhir's is slightly better at 33.68.

Meanwhile according to a report in Deccan Herald, Virat Kohli admitted on Wednesday that India could have done better and won by a bigger margin their opening World T20 game. Having helped India post a challenging total with his even half-century, that fetched him the man of the match award, the right hander paid a back-handed complement to Afghanistan saying that their good showing was because the minnows had nothing to lose. “I feel we could have bowled in better areas and won with a bigger margin,” he said when asked if bowling continues to be a worry.

“(But) it was a good wicket and they had nothing to lose. That is also a big factor which isn’t discussed much. A team ranked lower has nothing to lose. They will bowl their hearts out; they have no double thoughts, no problems with the situation. In batting too, they come out and play their shots. If they come off, then it becomes a problem for the bowling side. But overall I feel we could have done better as far as the bowling unit is concerned and could have won by a bigger margin,” he offered.

Meanwhile Hindustan Times writes that as Yuvraj Singh knocked Shapoor Zadran’s delivery over the boundary on Wednesday evening, he not only announced his return in his characteristic style but also laid to rest the fears and uncertainties of last nine months. The 30-year-old southpaw has had a storied career, making it difficult to pick one moment as his best. But the one that will now go on to define Yuvi will be the Wednesday night’s confident stride — on the crease, and away from the rare form of germ cell cancer that saw him hospitalised in the US and out of action for about nine months.

“It has taken a dogged determination and lots of discipline to be back. A foodie once, he only eats organic food now — binging is a big no. Yuvraj of the past may have thought of partying after helping his team beat Afghanistan.  But, “he was happy and calm…Obviously he was feeling good but he was very, very normal. He just relaxed in his room,” said a team insider,” says the report.