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Time running out for India openers

Amol Karhadkar

January 5, 2013

Comments: 79 | Text size: A | A

Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag take a drinks break, Perth, January 12, 2012
Losing steam: Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag have struggled to give India any starts over the past one year © AFP
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Players/Officials: Gautam Gambhir | Virender Sehwag
Series/Tournaments: England tour of India
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The result of India's match against Pakistan at the Kotla maybe inconsequential in the context of the series, but the match is critical for India's struggling openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir to revive selectors' faith in them ahead of the upcoming series against England.

The national selection panel is set to be convened at the end of the match for selecting the squad for the five-match ODI series against England, which begins in Rajkot on January 11. And with both Sehwag and Gambhir repeatedly failing to make sizeable contributions in the shorter format, don't be surprised if one of them - if not both - faces the axe at least for the initial phase of the England ODIs.

Since his epic 219 against West Indies in December 2011, Sehwag has had a forgettable run with the bat in the 50-over format. He has been able to score just 248 runs in 11 innings since the record knock in Indore. His solitary fifty during this period came during the series in Sri Lanka last July-August. As a result, time is running out for the veteran player.

"The only way he can save himself is by coming up with a big knock tomorrow. Otherwise, it will be difficult for him to be a part of the squad thereafter," a source close to the selection panel said.

It is also uncertain if the selectors will announce the squad for all five ODIs or a part of the series. With the team in dire straits, it won't be surprising if Sunday will see the squad for the first two or three ODIs being named.

What is almost certain though is the entry of Cheteshwar Pujara into the one-day fold. The Saurashtra batsman has more than established himself as a Test No. 3. But with his ability to find gaps at will, Pujara is set to be included in the one-day squad for the first time. It remains to be seen if he replaces either of the established openers or Mumbai batsman Rohit Sharma, who yet again failed to translate his form in domestic cricket on to the international stage.

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by mkaliasif on (January 8, 2013, 8:01 GMT)

Sehwag is already out from 3 ODI against England...which is a good sign for Indian Cricket to bulid World Cup ahead and a real chance for Young Bloods like Pujara,Rahane,Vijay,Chand.And we have to give much time for them even if they fail in 1 or 2 series because we have to think of their ages as well.It is high time india choose alternative option for Sehwag & Gambhir as they are aging lions.As Dhoni complaints Sehwag is very slow in field thereby allows opposition Teams to utilise the drop or mis-field.Frankly speaking selectors have decided to give last chance for Gambhir...and if he fails again......Pujara & Rahane performs....that is the boon for Indian Cricket for coming years.

Posted by vrkp on (January 6, 2013, 15:08 GMT)

My squad for the 3 odis: Vijay, Rahane, Pujara, Kohli, Yuvraj, Raina, Dhoni (C and Wk), Jadeja, I Pathan, Ashwin, Dinda, Ishant, Bhuv Kumar, Yadav.

First ODI XI Vijay, Rahane, Pujara, Kohli, Yuvraj, Raina, Dhoni (C and Wk), Ashwin, Dinda, Ishant, Bhuv Kumar/Yadav.

No Rohit sharma for at least another one year. I'm really sick of seeing that guy in the team in spite of doing absolutely nothing spl for the last zillion matches he was selected.

I think our fast bowling reserve looks reasonably good at least in ODIs with the emergency of Dinda and Bhuvi and re-surrection of Ishant. Once Yadav is fully fit, our fast bowling will look much better.

Posted by TRIC on (January 6, 2013, 11:06 GMT)

Playing 11 indian Team for England ODI- openers -Murali Vijay and abhinav mukund 1 down- Ajinkya rahane 2 down- Cheteshwar pujara 3 down. Virat Kohli 4 down. Dinesh Karthik 5down . Jalaj saxena 6.down Bhuvanesh Kumar 7down. Rahul sharma 8. Sreesanth 9. Ishant. (Bowlers-Ishant/sreesanth / Bhuvanesh / Virat/Jalaj/Kohli )

Posted by mkaliasif on (January 6, 2013, 10:38 GMT)

surely both sewag & Ghambir should be sacked for their recent performance...and certainly gambir's stand in the crease is not all satisfying...he is just playing selfish and doesnt want india to win any matches....he only finds time to counter attack indian captian and only possess wicked thought to become Indian captian....which is not possible at all...he is just kicking the door which cannot be opened..i suggest the indian line up as per below for 5 ODI.. Murali Vijay,pujara,kohli,Dhoni,Raina,Yuvaraj,Rahane Aswin,Bhuvanshwar,Ishanth Sharma,Sreeshant,

Posted by doors666 on (January 6, 2013, 9:57 GMT)

great. so they dropped sehwag. and what happened, rahane socred 4. gambhir scored 15, kohli scored 7.

dhoni has to go as a captain, i dont care how many runs he scored, he's a bad captain. his team selection, his love for csk players, his field placements, his strategy, his bowling changes have all gone to dogs. A captain first needs to be a captain and then a batsman.

Posted by InsideHedge on (January 6, 2013, 9:21 GMT)

@nyc_missile: Thanks for the +ve feedback, at least there's two of us who can see Rohit's obvious abilities. Anyone with an eye for the game will tell you he has that extra time but too many of the critics here have unrealistic expectations. It was pretty obv they wouldn't play him in the 3rd ODI, in that case he should have been released for the Ranji QF but this is another area where the wise men who run cricket fall short. In home series, you don't need to carry a squad of 16 players from venue to venue!

@Jose P: Well said, your comments on franchise ownership, etc is spot on. Further, even players such as Sehwag are frightened to sit out a game or two. Domestic cricket means playing in front of 50 fans (see the Ranji QF blog), their endorsements have clauses that require them to be in the national eye at all times. No visibility, no pay. And when you're used to the payouts they've been receiving, these guys have no issues lying to the physio and playing half fit.

Posted by   on (January 6, 2013, 7:28 GMT)

It is time that India gave a chance to the Husseys and Hodges of Indian cricket. Amol Majumdar, Pankaj Singh, Yashpal Singh, Wasim Jaffer, Hrishikesh Kanitkar, and Aakash Chopra have done a lot in domestic cricket without adequate reward or recognition. Some of them have been shunted out of the international circuit rather quickly, while others were selected when they were too raw and dropped. These guys deserve another chance considering the hunger and passion with which they play. If these are selected in the Test team, and the ODIs and T20s are left to youngsters, the Indian team at least will make a fist of most matches. But is it possible with out selection committee? Guess not!

Posted by screamingeagle on (January 6, 2013, 7:13 GMT)

Out of form, petty politics and absolute indifference, that is what the Indian team's real issue is. Only way to get them out of that mindset is by showing a few of them the door. Get new guys in, let them fail and learn. Someone was saying openers fail because they face the new ball, but that is their job. You may fail a few times, but the problem is that these two 'veterans' do not even look like they belong. Which is sad.

Posted by   on (January 6, 2013, 6:57 GMT)

Both Sehwag & Gambhir should be out. The 5 match ODI series against England is a good chance to develop a new pair. My bet is on Rahane-Pujara combo. With Kohli to follow.The only doubt is whether Pujara & Kohli should swap their positions at no 2 & no 3, or not.

Posted by   on (January 6, 2013, 6:53 GMT)

@Mohammad Zamin on (January 06 2013, 06:06 AM GMT)

The criticism of India's batting is NO reflection on the Pak bowling unit which was exceptional. The point is that the Indian batsmen have been consistently failing against bowlers from ALL countries. Not only they failed abjectly against England, Australia & now Pakistan. In between, even when they managed to win against West Indies and NZ, they were floundering against some of their better bowlers too. Tim Southee's short resurgence was facilitated by the poor performance of the Indians in India!

It is not that India do not have enough raw material to work on, both in batting and bowling. But, the squatter mentality of the stars who are past their prime, selectors' lack of guts, poor talent scouting and development landed us in this plight.

To boot, those who are in power have their own franchises, and their brand value and financial success depend on their own employee-cricketers, figuring in the national team, all the time.

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