New Delhi, Oct 12: Veteran India opener Gautam Gambhir made a comeback into the Test fold after a gap two years.
Though he couldn't make it very memorable return, yet the left-hander impressed one and all with his aggresive and positive intent in Indore Test against New Zealand.
Gambhir made 29 in the first and a valuable 50 in the second innings of the third and final Test against New Zealand at Indore, that India won by a whopping margin of 321 runs. With this win India completed their whitewash against Kiwis as they seated strengthened their hold over No. 1 Test ranking.
Gautam Gambhir was the obvious choice of the team management before going into Indore Test and the left-hander justified their decision with his performance. He upto an extent has resolved the problem of opening the innings.
With 10 more home Tests scheduled until March 2017, India would want to consolidate their position in the longer format of the game. The hosts could only achieve it if they get to a good start. Therefore, a good opening partnership is key to any side's success in Tests.
And Gambhir's small yet valuable knocks against New Zealand at Indore prove he could be the solution to India's opening woes.
Gambhir endured bruised shoulder pain when he came out to bat against New Zealand in the second innings, after getting retired hurt, and went on scoring his 22nd Test half century. Thus, gave an indication of the mental toughness he possesses.
Here are a few reasons why 34-year-old opener deserves becoming India's regular opener in Tests again:
Gambhir's performance in domestic circuit:
Ever since his ouster from the Indian side, the Delhi-opener has accumulated runs in the domestic circuit. The southpaw righteously earned a place in the side owing to his performance in the day-night Duleep Trophy tournament.
In a tournament several international players troubled picking the pink ball, Gambhir registered scores of 77, 90, 59, 94 and 36 in the five innings that he played.
He was also the highest run-getter for his side Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2016. Runs came for Gambhir at ease.
Shikhar Dhawan's inconsistency in Tests has been a reason to worry for the Indian side. Though the left-hander was ruled out of the remainder of series against New Zealand due to injury but he is facing sharp criticism over his poor form too.
Here's how Dhawan has performed in the last 15 innings:
134, 28, 0, 0, 45*, 12, 39, 33, 21, 84, 27, 1, 26, 1, 17.
Dhawan's opening partner Murali Vijay too is struggling to live up to the expectations. It has been 17 innings since the Tamil Nadu batsman slammed his last Test century (150), which came against Bangladesh in Bangladesh.
Here's how Vijay batted ever since he slammed his last Test ton:
0, 82, 75, 47, 28*, 40, 5, 12, 3, 7, 65, 76, 9, 7, 10, 19.
These figures reflect India's perennial opening woes in Tests. Vijay didn't do well in West Indies as well as in the last two Test matches against New Zealand despite playing good knocks in both the innings of Kanpur Test, in which he made 65 and 76 respectively.
Gambhir's experience in Tests, performance against spin:
The 34-year-old has so far played 57 Tests, scoring over 4,000 runs. The southpaw slammed 22nd Test fifty of his Test career, which further cements his position in the side.
Since, all the 10 upcoming matches are going to be played on Indian conditions, batsmen who play spinners well are going to do well and Gambhir is unarguably one of the finest Indian batters against spin and every visiting team will rely heavily over spinners during matches against India.
Confidence of team management:
He also enjoys the confidence of batting coach Sanjay Bangar, who feels Gambhir has a role to play in the long home test season. Even skipper Virat Kohli has showed faith in Gambhir.
"Gautam Gambhir is a quality player. What he has done really well for the time he was out of the team was that he kept on performing for his (IPL) franchise and the state side. And when he got his opportunity in the Duleep Trophy, he was among the top run scorers and that too against the pink ball which certain batsmen found difficult to pick. He has ticked all the boxes," Bangar before start of Indore Test.
Thus, Gambhir's experience and performance on Indian pitches should make him an obvious choice for the upcoming Test series. His experience and the gritty innings against New Zealand in the third Test against New Zealand also gives him an upperhand over others.