India v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Bangalore, 2nd day September 1, 2012

Fragile openers a worry for India

The recent failures of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir are a reminder of the bad old days of 10-15 years ago when the No. 3 Rahul Dravid was virtually opening the innings after the openers flopped
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One of the central planks of India's ascent to the No. 1 spot three years ago was the stability provided at the top of the order by the free-scoring Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. For a country that had perpetually been on the lookout for a quality Test opening partnership since the retirement of Sunil Gavaskar in 1987, the reliable Sehwag-Gambhir combination ensured India's vastly experienced middle-order was finally shielded from the new ball.

Since Gambhir's recall to the Test side in July 2008, the pair established themselves as one of the most feared opening partnerships in world cricket. By the end of 2010 they had become India's most prolific first-wicket pair, but since the capitulation in Centurion in December 2010, they haven't put on a century stand and the drought of individual hundreds stretches even further back.

The Australia tour was the nadir, with a highest opening stand of 26 runs spanning eight innings, and Indian fans were reminded of the bad old days of 10-15 years ago when the No. 3 Rahul Dravid was virtually an opener, given how quickly India's top two were easily separated.

That feeling that a wicket was imminent with India's openers at the crease returned again when New Zealand's quicks had the new ball swerving around at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Gambhir was beaten for pace by the deceptively quick Trent Boult in the first over; New Zealand were convinced they had Sehwag dismissed twice in the second over, lbw off the first ball and caught-behind off the last but Sehwag survived both close calls; Gambhir nicked a away-going delivery to third slip in the third only for Brendon McCullum to put down an absolute sitter, before the shaky opening stand ended in the fourth with Gambhir shouldering arms to a delivery from Tim Southee that took the off bail.

Failing in seamer-friendly conditions of Australia is one thing, but fumbling at home against one of the weakest Test teams around raises alarms. Particularly since three of the India's middle-order legends have retired, to be replaced by three youngsters.

India batsmen over the past decade have found it notoriously difficult to convert a successful limited-overs career into a long Test one. Since VVS Laxman established himself in the Test team in the late 90s, only two Indian batsmen have consistently retained their spots in the Test line-up over several years: Sehwag and Gambhir.

In the new-look Indian line-up, the two are now senior statesman, and expected to deliver the performances that will ease Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina's journey in Test cricket. All three have tightened their hold on their middle-order spots with runs in this series, but with sterner tests lying in wait they would like a better platform than they have been given this series.

While Sehwag and Gambhir's form has fallen away, neither is in any danger yet of losing his spot. Sehwag remains a man who can change a game in an hour, especially in subcontinental conditions, and Gambhir's tenacity in difficult situations, highlighted during the 2010-11 tour of South Africa when he helped save the decisive Cape Town Test, makes him a valuable member of the side.

The question for India is how long they should continue with the same opening combination. When either of them has been missing through injury or suspension, India have tried out a couple of replacements in M Vijay and Abhinav Mukund, neither of whom has done enough to deserve a permanent place. While Abhinav is still a regular in the A squad, Vijay has slipped off the selectors' radar, ignored for the A tour of the West Indies in June and the forthcoming trip to New Zealand. Ajinkya Rahane, Mumbai's domestic run machine, is now the frontrunner for the position of back-up opener, but is unlikely to force himself into the team when both seniors are fit.

One option that had opened up after the retirement of Dravid and Laxman this year was to push Sehwag down to the middle-order, a position that he has long said he wants to bat in. That could have opened the door for Rahane, and also allowed India to groom an opening pair for future overseas tours. Sehwag had a miserable time at the top of the order on the tours of South Africa, England and Australia over the past two years, and his devil-may-care batting approach is perhaps not best suited for those testing conditions. That option isn't available at least in the near future as the middle-order batsmen have all performed in the limited chances provided in the current series.

That means India will persist with Sehwag and Gambhir at the top of the order at least for the England home series starting late October. James Anderson and Co. will consistently ask more searching questions of India's batting than New Zealand's young attack, and an escape from a top-order collapse will be much harder than it was on the second day at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, making a sturdy opening pair all the more important.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on September 2, 2012, 15:22 GMT

    Two batsmen ( Kohli & Pujara) and two spinners (Ashwin & Ojha) alone looked their part for Test Cricket, in this series (unless somebody else proves otherwise in the next two days. Who knows, it could be even just one day). All the rest were suspects. But one needs a XI to play a match. Srikkant... hey, Srikkant... where are you. Don't go away that fast...With so many years as the chief selector, can't you please give us a list to choose the remaining seven, for test cricket?

  • on September 2, 2012, 14:18 GMT

    Fair point about the openers. Another worry is the No.6 spot. I am not convinced Suresh Raina is the man to fill this. He looked awkward and out of his league in the first innings of the second test, though he scored a half century. It is possible that he was just nervous. It is equally possible that he lacks skills to play test cricket. If it is the latter, he is going to look fine during the home tests only to be exposed brutally in SA. I feel for Badri / Rohit as they look more suitable for the longer format than Raina and are not being given chances.

  • crindo77 on September 2, 2012, 14:17 GMT

    They always were shaky; riding your luck smoothly doesn't mean stability. With Sehwag, his audacious talent is unquestionable but over the years bowlers have stopped bowling to his strengths, and with age diminishing his freakish hand-eye coordination and timing, I think his career graph will steadily decline. As for Gambhir, technical short comings are becoming more obvious; he has a big issue with short pitched stuff, which hasn't been highlighted as Raina has been singled out for that exposure. His gritty attitude gone, ODI shots have become his mainstay, which frequently gets him clean bowled in Tests. But then the BCCI have never really planned for or invested in Test cricket. With Sehwag, they got a maverick who worked beautifully, and it was all good while it lasted, thanks to Dravid at no 3. Now that the party is coming to a close, be prepared for some well organised chaos in Test batting.

  • on September 2, 2012, 14:13 GMT

    Advantage NZ. With almost two full days in hand, and with Southee & Patel in good form, Taylor can go for broke and set very aggressive fields. In fact, that is the only choice he has. Defensiveness on his part will be walking into opponents' hands. At least, the two Indian openers from Delhi had been notorious to oblige to such tactics. Sachin looks as if he can't help obliging. Hope, not this time, you three (saying this out of frustration). I am looking for THAT Gouti who did a 'Dravidian' batting in New Zealand, on tougher pitches, not too long ago! If India doesn't get the last wicket without much ado, and its top four doesn't win it for India, in my role as an Indian supporter, I will be disappointed. But, if NZ wins, I will not cry for two reasons. 1. The good boys from NZ who is playing good cricket t the moment deserve it. 2. It may wake up those who take decisions for Indian cricket.

  • on September 2, 2012, 14:02 GMT

    Wish, that there is Wimbledon or Olympics throughout the year, every year, at least till a God who had finished his wonderful job, find his next wonderful vocation, hopefully around Indian cricket, but NOT in the middle.

  • on September 2, 2012, 13:59 GMT

    Rahane & Pujara should be developed as the opening pair for tests. All tests to be played in India should be used to blood them in. Instead of throwing them to the wolves in SA, Australia or England. With Rahane, Pujara & Kohli occupying the top three slots, I have hopes for India's test cricket.

  • on September 2, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    The three senior most batsmen are the 'suspects' in India's chase: Sachin, Sehwag, & Gouti.

  • rahulcricket007 on September 2, 2012, 13:25 GMT

    @MATTY P1979 . ACTUALLY IT WAS 4 INNINGS LOSS NOT 6 . ALSO SEHWAG 'S AVERAGE OUTSIDE SUBCONTINENT IS 36 NOT 30 . CAN YOU PLEASE TELL ME HOW MANY ENGLISH BATSMEN AVERAGED MORE THAN 36 IN SUBCONTINENT . ESPECIALLY THE LIKES OF BELL (WALKING WKT AGAINST SPIN) .ALSO IN LAST 5 YEARS INDIA HAS PLAYED MORE MATCHES AWAY FROM HOME . INDIA PLAYED 53 MATCHES IN LAST 5 YEARS IN WHICH 30 MATCHES WERE PLAYED OUTSIDE HOME . 2007 ENG TOUR(3 TESTS WON BY 1-0 , 2008 AUS TOUR(4TESTS LOST BY 2-1 , 2008 SL TOUR (3 TESTS LOST BY 2-1 )2009 NZ (3 TESTS WON BY 1-0), 2010 SL (3 TESTS DREW 1-1 ,) 2010 SA (3 TESTS DREW 1-1 ) 2011 WI(3 TESTS WON 1-0) 2011 ENG (4 TESTS LOST 4-0 , 2012 AUS (4 TESTS LOST 4-0 ).

  • rahulcricket007 on September 2, 2012, 13:14 GMT

    @BRUEESLS LION . OK INDIA ARE 3 DOWN FOR 50 BUT EVEN THEN INDIA WILL MANAGE TO MAKE 350 EASILY BECAUSE OF THE LIKES OF PUJARA , KOHLI , DHONI , ASHWIN . THAT WILL PUT ENGLAND UNDER A LOT OF PRESSURE CONSIDERING THE SITUATION THAT THEY HAVE TO BAT IN FOURTH INNINGS .

  • AvidCricFan on September 2, 2012, 12:52 GMT

    BTW, SRT, Shewag and Zaheer Khan need to be repaced immediately. Zaheer Khan's age is also showing up. India needs to move on to young pace bowlers and give them chance to blossom.

  • on September 2, 2012, 15:22 GMT

    Two batsmen ( Kohli & Pujara) and two spinners (Ashwin & Ojha) alone looked their part for Test Cricket, in this series (unless somebody else proves otherwise in the next two days. Who knows, it could be even just one day). All the rest were suspects. But one needs a XI to play a match. Srikkant... hey, Srikkant... where are you. Don't go away that fast...With so many years as the chief selector, can't you please give us a list to choose the remaining seven, for test cricket?

  • on September 2, 2012, 14:18 GMT

    Fair point about the openers. Another worry is the No.6 spot. I am not convinced Suresh Raina is the man to fill this. He looked awkward and out of his league in the first innings of the second test, though he scored a half century. It is possible that he was just nervous. It is equally possible that he lacks skills to play test cricket. If it is the latter, he is going to look fine during the home tests only to be exposed brutally in SA. I feel for Badri / Rohit as they look more suitable for the longer format than Raina and are not being given chances.

  • crindo77 on September 2, 2012, 14:17 GMT

    They always were shaky; riding your luck smoothly doesn't mean stability. With Sehwag, his audacious talent is unquestionable but over the years bowlers have stopped bowling to his strengths, and with age diminishing his freakish hand-eye coordination and timing, I think his career graph will steadily decline. As for Gambhir, technical short comings are becoming more obvious; he has a big issue with short pitched stuff, which hasn't been highlighted as Raina has been singled out for that exposure. His gritty attitude gone, ODI shots have become his mainstay, which frequently gets him clean bowled in Tests. But then the BCCI have never really planned for or invested in Test cricket. With Sehwag, they got a maverick who worked beautifully, and it was all good while it lasted, thanks to Dravid at no 3. Now that the party is coming to a close, be prepared for some well organised chaos in Test batting.

  • on September 2, 2012, 14:13 GMT

    Advantage NZ. With almost two full days in hand, and with Southee & Patel in good form, Taylor can go for broke and set very aggressive fields. In fact, that is the only choice he has. Defensiveness on his part will be walking into opponents' hands. At least, the two Indian openers from Delhi had been notorious to oblige to such tactics. Sachin looks as if he can't help obliging. Hope, not this time, you three (saying this out of frustration). I am looking for THAT Gouti who did a 'Dravidian' batting in New Zealand, on tougher pitches, not too long ago! If India doesn't get the last wicket without much ado, and its top four doesn't win it for India, in my role as an Indian supporter, I will be disappointed. But, if NZ wins, I will not cry for two reasons. 1. The good boys from NZ who is playing good cricket t the moment deserve it. 2. It may wake up those who take decisions for Indian cricket.

  • on September 2, 2012, 14:02 GMT

    Wish, that there is Wimbledon or Olympics throughout the year, every year, at least till a God who had finished his wonderful job, find his next wonderful vocation, hopefully around Indian cricket, but NOT in the middle.

  • on September 2, 2012, 13:59 GMT

    Rahane & Pujara should be developed as the opening pair for tests. All tests to be played in India should be used to blood them in. Instead of throwing them to the wolves in SA, Australia or England. With Rahane, Pujara & Kohli occupying the top three slots, I have hopes for India's test cricket.

  • on September 2, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    The three senior most batsmen are the 'suspects' in India's chase: Sachin, Sehwag, & Gouti.

  • rahulcricket007 on September 2, 2012, 13:25 GMT

    @MATTY P1979 . ACTUALLY IT WAS 4 INNINGS LOSS NOT 6 . ALSO SEHWAG 'S AVERAGE OUTSIDE SUBCONTINENT IS 36 NOT 30 . CAN YOU PLEASE TELL ME HOW MANY ENGLISH BATSMEN AVERAGED MORE THAN 36 IN SUBCONTINENT . ESPECIALLY THE LIKES OF BELL (WALKING WKT AGAINST SPIN) .ALSO IN LAST 5 YEARS INDIA HAS PLAYED MORE MATCHES AWAY FROM HOME . INDIA PLAYED 53 MATCHES IN LAST 5 YEARS IN WHICH 30 MATCHES WERE PLAYED OUTSIDE HOME . 2007 ENG TOUR(3 TESTS WON BY 1-0 , 2008 AUS TOUR(4TESTS LOST BY 2-1 , 2008 SL TOUR (3 TESTS LOST BY 2-1 )2009 NZ (3 TESTS WON BY 1-0), 2010 SL (3 TESTS DREW 1-1 ,) 2010 SA (3 TESTS DREW 1-1 ) 2011 WI(3 TESTS WON 1-0) 2011 ENG (4 TESTS LOST 4-0 , 2012 AUS (4 TESTS LOST 4-0 ).

  • rahulcricket007 on September 2, 2012, 13:14 GMT

    @BRUEESLS LION . OK INDIA ARE 3 DOWN FOR 50 BUT EVEN THEN INDIA WILL MANAGE TO MAKE 350 EASILY BECAUSE OF THE LIKES OF PUJARA , KOHLI , DHONI , ASHWIN . THAT WILL PUT ENGLAND UNDER A LOT OF PRESSURE CONSIDERING THE SITUATION THAT THEY HAVE TO BAT IN FOURTH INNINGS .

  • AvidCricFan on September 2, 2012, 12:52 GMT

    BTW, SRT, Shewag and Zaheer Khan need to be repaced immediately. Zaheer Khan's age is also showing up. India needs to move on to young pace bowlers and give them chance to blossom.

  • AvidCricFan on September 2, 2012, 12:49 GMT

    The best for the Indian team is to force Shewag in oblivion. He has not performed overseas in the last two years and his skills for his age are not a good fit for the team. SRT must retire. He had mediocre series in Australia and continues with similar performance. We are making NZ pace attack look much better than what it is with aging and unprepared players just like what happened in Australia.

  • on September 2, 2012, 12:31 GMT

    i m a great fan of SRT but i really think he should retire now.there is nothing left for him to do.give chance to youngsters like rahane,rayudu,sharma. Mr. SRT should learn a lesson from great VVS laxman

  • Jerseyite on September 2, 2012, 12:17 GMT

    I have a feeling that Sehwag will retire before SRT. He will play his 100 tests and bow out. It will make SRT's vigil even more disrespectful. Even I don't blame SRT for hanging around.

    Indians are responsible for making him feel bigger than the game. He feels he is indispensable to the game. The fact is apart from an odd match or two, for the past 7/8 years, he has done okay, not great. I can imagine thousands if not millions of folks trying to appease him and whisper to him that he is the best and should continue and give him a false sense of pride. The fact is that he should look at himself in the mirror and ask his inner conscience as to whether he is respecting the sport that he claims to love so much.

  • Jerseyite on September 2, 2012, 12:10 GMT

    The batting order is really messed up and we can't plan for the future either, because SRT is just not saying anything about his future. And fools like Bhogle(whom I hate) think SRT should hang around for SA (2013), Aus (2014), etc.. Poor Badrinath is just not able to get a game. I am sure Badri wouldn't mind opening either. I mean, is it such a ridiculous proposition for Badri to open when Sehwag and Gambhir haven't exactly lit fire. I don't think for the past 24 months or so, Sehwag & Gambhir have done anything remarkable.

  • tanstell87 on September 2, 2012, 11:48 GMT

    Sehwag & Gambhir have to continue as openers for the remaining 8 tests...if Raina fails at 6 against England in first 2 test, play Rahane....he has a solid technique.. displayed his skills against England last year both away & at home....many people wishing Tendulkar to retire..he is not going to till tour of South Africa in Dec 2013...& he should not retire...he is rusty having played no cricket after IPL...& that is the reason for his downfalls....Gambhir should not be dropped & wont be..he was major factor in World Cup finals for India - 75 in World T20 2007 & 97 in World Cup 2011...just going through bad form in tests...& India will hammer England 4-0 & Australia 4-0...!

  • on September 2, 2012, 11:26 GMT

    @cSpiers: please note that sehwag averages 46 overseas and 53 in India with an overall test average of 51+. how many English batsmen can boast of that? Yep the last year was bad but we are eagerly waiting to welcome the English cricket team. Remember the 5-0 ODI washout?

  • malepas on September 2, 2012, 9:53 GMT

    All the Indian Fans who think that they gonna just roll over England in India needs to think hard,this not gonna be easy and with the fragile current Indian batting line up and Tendulkar now started to look like coming down the hill,,and if thinking of spin attack,England has better spin attack then India and far more potent fast attack,,yes,,their batting can be tested against spin but they have good depth and thier gradual improvement in Srilanka shows that,,moreover,,don't even think that India got spin attack like Pak,,so this not gonna be a cake walk as some of the Indian fans seems to be thinking but good luck anyway.

  • brusselslion on September 2, 2012, 9:01 GMT

    As an England fan, I'm hoping that the article writer is correct & that the Indian selectors keep things the way they are; Sehwag, Gambhir & SRT are all walking wickets at the moment. If the wickets for the England series have any sort of early pace/ swing - and England bowl first - then it is not difficult to see Finn & Anderson having India 3 down for under 50. This will put great pressure on the middle order. Pujara is largely untested at this level & Raina, as other posters point out, is uncomfortable against the rising ball. 80 or so for 5 is not impossible: Kohli & Dhoni are fine players but can't be expected to post century partnerships everytime. If - admitedly a big if - England can play Ashwin and Ohja reasonably well then they will be in with a big chance (sorry Khan has been a fine bowler but is now too physically fragile and England's batsmen should be able to cope with Yadev). Shame that England will not be able to call upon Tremlett; Broad needs to get his A game back.

  • 158notout on September 2, 2012, 8:40 GMT

    MoHit - Dravid did not fail in England, he was the only Indian batsman that turned up, scoring three tons if i remember correctly. the only one of Lara, kallis, SRT, Punter or Gavaskar (i think) to get on the board at Lords. he was let down by some really poor batting from the rest of the order - SRT never converted starts, VVS looked uncharacteristically flustered, Sehwag started his series with a king pair (loved that!), Gambhir and Raina couldn't handle the bowling at all. The only one that looked quality was Dravid. before that series I was wondering when he would retire, afterwards I was wondering how I could have thought it. Unfortunately for India if he had of failed as well then he would of retired after that series and India could have brought someone else through in Australia. As it was Dravid fell to bits down under.

  • Leggie on September 2, 2012, 8:25 GMT

    @Mohit - Statistics reveal only half the story. While it was Swann who got Raina the most in England, his struggles against the fast bowlers were obvious. There was a Test I remember where he struggled to get even off the mark. True - even the experienced struggled, but the one who looked most out of place was Raina. This is not to take away anything away from Raina - the ODI batsman - who looks to be in a different league, but I have my reservations about his abilities in the longer format. I'll be more than happy to be proved wrong!

  • manish21may on September 2, 2012, 8:13 GMT

    Gambhi should be dropped.

  • Criketanand on September 2, 2012, 6:57 GMT

    @mohit lol Raina got out to swan after he was under pressure from fast bowlers. In actual fact it was not only test but also in one dryers that raina couldn't cope with short stuff. If u look at his videos u can see he didn't know whether to go forward or back and after few short balls would get out to a swinging full length ball. Yes most top order failed but they have proven themselves in the past, This innings is in India where short balls come on slowly and are less effective so Raina won't be troubled that much as before and most of us will believe he is a good batsman. If u read any of his interview u will find Raina himself admitting he has problems with short balls and he has been working on it. About Pujara , it is still early days, when we go overseas we will come to know if he can or cannot play short balls, so wait and watch

  • on September 2, 2012, 6:35 GMT

    And if the two innings are any sign..we may see Sachin getting out bowled the whole season, maybe then his joy to play will subside like it happened for Dravid.

  • CSpiers on September 2, 2012, 6:32 GMT

    Sehwag hasnt scored a century since 2010 and is a CLEAR home-track bully, averaging under 30 in Oceania and Africa. Needs to be dropped for poor showings and ever worsening technique - i.e. the front foot of lead.

  • on September 2, 2012, 6:32 GMT

    Best option would be to have Sehwag bat at no 5, Kohli at 4 and Rahane open with Gambhir. But this could only happen if the Great Old man of Indian Cricket finally decides to retire. Till then lets enjoy whatever He has to offer, Indian team can afford to lose more matches.

  • Gupta.Ankur on September 2, 2012, 6:31 GMT

    Thank god, someobody used his brains and tried to make sense of india's batting failures...which begins at the top!

    Half of the people put blame on SRT and move forward...but thankfully this author has bothered to look beyond and find others who haven't done well.

    I am sure half the people won;t be able to explain India's batting failures once SRT retires...

  • on September 2, 2012, 5:53 GMT

    @Leggie: The short deliveries that Raina got were easily dispatched to the boundary fence !! Raina's weakness is a myth created by some people who couldn't find any apparent weakness in him . In England, it was Swann who accounted for Raina's wicket most of the time and the whole batting line up including Tendulkar,Laxman,Dravid,Sehwag,etc failed in England (Also, Raina didn't have much experience playing in England that too against a quality attack) !! So rather than making fake analysis , you should be talking about the real weakling against short stuff - Cheteshwar Pujara !!

  • keecha on September 2, 2012, 5:33 GMT

    Dhoni has a good chance of hitting 2 birds with no stones. Just have Sachin open the batting with Viru and Gauti play at no.4. That could make both click.

  • VRRK on September 2, 2012, 5:27 GMT

    What about Tendulkar, what stability has he provided to the team? It is high time for him to retire and give way to a youngster like VVS did.

  • on September 2, 2012, 5:26 GMT

    Both Sehwag & SRT look like they are nearing the end of the careers. If SRT retires, Sehwag can have one series at no 5 to prove himself. He wants no 4 but Kohli is a more suitable no 4, more solid. Chand could be tried. Rahane & Mukund have so far failed as openers, even against a WI 2nd XI.

  • MyVue on September 2, 2012, 4:32 GMT

    Is it time for Gambhir and Sachin to be dropped? They can play some 1st class cricket and earn their spot back. After all they are playing for their India. One of them is claiming that he is enjoying cricket - I cannot see any enjoyment in getting out clean bowled to rookies.

  • on September 2, 2012, 4:07 GMT

    There is no quick fix solution for this. Do we have any alternate opener? High time somebody has to be groomed. Would not be a bad idea if Chand is picked for Board President XI or any of the practice matches against the touring England or Australia. Seems Gambhir has been sorted out by the bowlers.

  • Alexk400 on September 2, 2012, 3:57 GMT

    Sehwag wants to bat middle order. Why not allow him to play where he wants to . He earned it. Anyway his temparament not good for opening. I doubt people who thinks his technique is bad. For me sehwag issue is his temparament , he wants to hit everything. Thats not possible with swinging ball. He hates patient game...he just wants slam bang. let him do it at number 4. Dump Sachin

  • MattyP1979 on September 2, 2012, 3:37 GMT

    Uppercut...well said. I just cannot get my head around 4 out of 5 years in the sub-cont. Although embarrassed 8-0 (6 by an innings) when they finally left home this was perhaps expected due to the lack of experience players had of different conditions. I love the fact that different parts of the world offer different challenges. Ind will not be taken seriously outside Ind. Eng struggle in the sub but don't get hammered.

  • Uppercut07 on September 2, 2012, 3:15 GMT

    "One of the central planks of India's ascent to the No. 1 spot three years ago was the stability provided at the top of the order by the free-scoring Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir" WRONG!!!! ne of the central planks of India's ascent to the No. 1 spot three years ago was PLAYING AT HOME!!!!!

  • vakkaraju on September 2, 2012, 2:51 GMT

    Gambhir has to realize that one day cricket with a slip or two at the most is different than test cricket with 3 slips and gully or two. He is into really bad habits just trying run the ball down. Edges are runs in ODIs and T20s. In tests you are caught. Sehwag has to realize there are no Walls to follow. He cannot play like he used to. They should be spoken to by the coaching staff. Soon if they do not change, they will be dropped. They will not get the long rope the other Seniors got.

  • svup on September 2, 2012, 2:17 GMT

    The openers have failed for over 2 years in test matches and they are also not changing their attitude to batting....south africa series and all overseas tours will be tough esp for these batsmen...they will lose their confidence should they be persisted in same position. instead one of them cna move to middle order..how about sehwag at 6? Considering opening pair is failing every time, compounded by uninspiring Tendulkar batting, situation offers no respite to young to ease-in. It's understatement to say Tendulkar struggled. he looked out of bounds! The middle order is suspect overseas. Pujara untested (Tour A century mean little in west Indian pitches) Raina a suspect! Dhoni mindset issue - He is good in India but doesn't believe in his defensive game and nor goes with attack mindset overseas. hence he restricted. There is strong opportunity to move sehwag or gambhir to 6 and try fit any conditions opener and may be trial an any condition middle order batsmen.

  • on September 2, 2012, 0:01 GMT

    A hint of swing makes them go for cover, I totally agree with the story. We need more solid openers. It's time we look elsewhere. Sehwag openly aired wish to go down the order, he should be go down. In the middle of everything, we are forgetting to appreciate curators for preparing such a nice pitch. Anil Kumble & co should continue to produce such a nice pitch at chinnaswamy stadium. I like the way Virat played his innings, Pujara and Raina should learn from him on how he constructed his innings. I am really impressed on his batting yesterday, he rarely beaten yesterday and technically more correct than anybody else.

  • on September 1, 2012, 23:59 GMT

    i am surprised no one is considering wasim jafar at all, agreed that young talent needs to be groomed but not themselves but under senior players... jafar would be perfect option now. may be give a chance like a rotation policy for openers..

  • US_Indian on September 1, 2012, 23:06 GMT

    It is high time they start grooming openers, if we give chance to Mukund, Rayudu or Unmukt or Rahane ( mix and match) specially Mukund/rayudu for left and right combo- they will fail a few times but definitely will bloom into a good opening pair. Mukund need to be given a long run as he is young and he did fairly decent in whatever chances he got, if others can get such a free run why not him? Rayudu has a better technique as an opener for both the shorter and longer format, but no one is talking about him for consideration , why? Rahane is predominantly a middle order batsman, then why he should be thrusted with an opening responsibility unless he wants to do otherwise he would fail and his chapter will be closed again for no fault of his. Sehwag and Gambhir are not only failing as openers but also in fulfilling their responsibilities as senior and most critical members of the team which is not good. I womder what good has Sachin been doing during the last 3 years, why he is there?

  • AvidCricFan on September 1, 2012, 22:54 GMT

    Shewag's game minus real technic will not get him very far this this age. He needs to be benched and young talent like Chand needs to be recruited. India is exposed further by SRT down the order. At his age, the reflexes needed can quickly drop. What he could do year back, can't be done now. I don't think he should be persisted. If he is struggling on Indian pitches, he will struggle in SA badly.

  • jango_moh on September 1, 2012, 21:48 GMT

    i find gambhir's form more worrying than sehwag's, sehwag is still hitting the ball well, and he got out to a bad ball due to great fielding... gambhir is constantly poking at balls outside the off stump(he gets a lot of runs in odis with that shot), but he still hasnt learnt that he needs to let them go... and then he leaves the ball he's supposed to play, i would bring rahane in as an opener instead of gambhir, thats my opinion...

  • S.Jagernath on September 1, 2012, 19:46 GMT

    The other aspect India are lacking in is an allrounder who can bat at 6 & average less than 35 with the ball.Unfortunately,Ravindra Jadeja seems to be the only candidate.

  • S.Jagernath on September 1, 2012, 19:40 GMT

    The problem with Ajinkya Rahane opening at test level is that he does not even open at first class level,he is generally a #3 batsman.Cheteshwar Pujara happens to be a #4 batsman at first class level.The idea of Rahane opening is not that good,it will be especially demanding for him if S.A,England & Australia prepare pitches similarly to what they just did.Rahul Dravid could go up or down the order & be successful anywhere but then he was special!

  • gothetaniwha on September 1, 2012, 19:22 GMT

    Sehwag is a walking wicket overseas , and needs help from umpires at home these days

  • MattyP1979 on September 1, 2012, 19:13 GMT

    Sehwag suprised most teams early on in his career by blasting away at the new ball. With his lack of foot movement and constant use of the edge of his bat he gave hope to the bowlers. Since then he (albeit slowley) has been worked out. Eng will make 'tubby' run, cut out the 4s and should have his number. Agree with most that he should come down the order, but after the Eng series he might be FAR down the order at 12 carrying drinks. The fact he avg's 30 odd outside the sub should be of no concern, Ind would have to play outside the sub first before this becomes an issue. Then he might again find himself 'injured'.

  • on September 1, 2012, 18:31 GMT

    Sehwag infact has done better than Gambir.So dropping whom is the question.But I think its high time to fit Rahane in.He is a long term prospect and do not waste his potential by keeping him nn the sidelines.Sehwag can come down the order.Irrespective of his 50,Raina's place can be taken by Viru.Give some more time to Gambhir.May be the entire home series.I am happy that Dhoni is coming up with some scores.Only saving grace for me in this series.

  • on September 1, 2012, 18:06 GMT

    @ Zaheer ..I don't think Sehwag is of any use lower down the order....He should retire if he is out of form I guess. But Sehwag is not in bad form...its Gambhir who has completely lost it in Test and seeing sachin feels like a boy from school is playing cricket.... Apart from Kohli and Pujara not one batsman looked like belonging to Test level....The demons were not in the pitches in England and Aus...it were in the players itself and this tour has proved it....Bowling without Zaheer is spineless on any wicket and batting is bleak most of the times.....I feel that it will take 10 more years before India can even think of No.1 Rating....Unfortunate but may well prove true because in current form even strong visitor teams like South Africa or Australia will beat us...

  • Nampally on September 1, 2012, 17:48 GMT

    Gambhir & Sehwag failed consistently in the Aussie Test series & now even against NZ .Sehwag still managed> 40 runs in both the tests but he is not the most feared opener he once was. Gambhir pokes or flashes at balls outside the off stump consistently & each time falls. He is not a typical opener even though he has managed to get away it till now. Yesterday he was caught in the slips again. Sehwag & Gambhir may be useful lower but their opening the innings days are gone. Let the new chapter begin.My suggestion for the new openers is Rahane & U.Chand.Chand played very well in the U-19 World cup &in the U-19 Asia cup. He needs to prove himself in the India A team &move on to Test matches. Rahane has been on the bench far too long. A multitude of openers were tried but failed. Mukund is the other guy worth trying if Rahane is not considered. But India needs to work quickly before the big overseas Tests start. In the middle order Pujara, Kohli & Raina mayt be OK but they need openers.

  • on September 1, 2012, 17:44 GMT

    @ truebleue_cricfan - true mate! Just took words out of my mouth!! Lets just say that Indian batting has a lot of problems in the near future!!

  • Leggie on September 1, 2012, 17:41 GMT

    India should still keep the option open of moving Sehwag down the order and trying Rahane at the top. This unfortunately has to come in the place of Suresh Raina - who still does not look like someone at ease with short rising deliveries even in subcontinental conditions. Gambhir should be persisted with at least for the next 1-2 tests. If his failures continue, he should be given an opportunity to get back to basics and get his technique sorted out. Meanwhile, the likes of Abhinav Mukund / M.Vijay and the backup middle order of Manoj Tiwary, Rohit Sharma should be kept absolutely ready to cover Sehwag as well.

  • CRICFAN_007 on September 1, 2012, 17:39 GMT

    Why only talk of the openers??? Don't the selectors think its time for the no. 4 batsman to make way for an youngster??? I think his time is up....... India can fare well in the tests without him!!!!!!!!

  • Neeta on September 1, 2012, 17:36 GMT

    It is a definitely a concern for Indian Cricket. But don't forget that both of them form one of the most successful opening partnership in world cricket. Gautam has been batting well in odi's and T-20's especially the ease with which he handled the swing and seam in ODI's in Sri Lanka has to be commended upon. It is just a matter of one good innings and he will be back to performing like he did in 2008-09 when he even won the ICC Test Player of the Year Award. As for Sehwag, he might give us blistering starts, but the time has come for him to be shifted down to middle order where he recently said he wants to bat. All the SRT haters remember that he is coming back after a long layoff and mark my words that he will score heavily in the England and the Australia series. You people have not been able to find even a permanent replacement for Ganguly and are asking for Sachin to be dropped at the time when Indian cricket is at its most vulnerable after the retirement of Wall and VVSTobecontd

  • SamRoy on September 1, 2012, 17:36 GMT

    I agree with @trueanalyst completely. Both Yuvraj and Raina should never have got such extended runs in test cricket. They are destined failures as they never look like they are comfortable at the crease against the red cherry and nobody can get them out.

  • on September 1, 2012, 17:28 GMT

    @Anant Shah: Where did Unmukt chand come from???. Winning a T20 world cup doesnt mean he is fit for tests. Look at yuvraj, he is played for so many years and won cups for us, still he is not in the Test side permanently!!!

  • on September 1, 2012, 17:26 GMT

    Sachins form has been worrying. He should leave way for a youngster and move shewag down the order. Rahane or Pujara should open with Gambhir.

  • Indian_Cricket_Fanatic on September 1, 2012, 17:22 GMT

    @aditya dhand ...... sehwag-gabhir's average was about 63.25 when they started playing together when this article was written http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/375112.html .....that is in 2008.....gradually they've brought their average down to 52 http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=1;filter=advanced;orderby=fow_runs;partnership_wicketmax1=1;partnership_wicketval1=partnership_wicket;qualmin1=4000;qualval1=fow_runs;template=results;type=fow ....their average in last 3 years is 48 in last 2 years is 42 and in last 1 year is 30!....its declining...and gambhir hasnt scored since that last bangladesh 100 in 2010...and sehwag since the last tour of nz in nov 2010..their time is up!..

  • on September 1, 2012, 17:18 GMT

    Pujara should open for india now. He has the technique. Kohli can bat at number 3, given his prime form that allows Sehwag to bat at number 5.

  • truebleue_cricfan on September 1, 2012, 16:30 GMT

    Fragile openers the only worry for India? How about a certain no. 4 slot? No one ready to write about that yet?

  • on September 1, 2012, 16:18 GMT

    even though they havent fired recently they are still India's most successful opening partnership in terms of runs and average. They are one of only 4 opening partnerships in the history of the game to have more than 4000 runs and among those they have the highest average

  • jay_vkjay on September 1, 2012, 16:15 GMT

    I forgot the last time an Indian opener scored a test century. I think India is the only Team among the top 8 test teams that their openers not scoring a hundred in the last one and half year or so. What happened to Gambhir? He is making hundreds in one dayers, got to electric starts in T20s, but failed miserably to red ball. Sehwags brisk scoring had converted draw matches to Indian victories. Nowadays he spoils every good start he gets and throws his wicket away. Time to test the new brigade of players at the top of the order. Rahane should have opened the batting.

  • Emancipator007 on September 1, 2012, 16:13 GMT

    There seems to be concerted efforts to doubt Viru's undoubted capabilities,even overseas. It was his 62 in 2nd inn in Centurion'10 which gave India the impetus to compete in that series after 1st innings capitulation. He began well in Adelaide too with 67 in 1st innings bf4 some loss of confidence. His last 3 innings 62,47,43 is hardly bad. I still maintain a fit & confident Viru (which he lost a bit after that surgery post IPL'11) would have averted those 8-0 losses.Fans,pundits forget that it was his raging form (along with Gambhir's peak period) which cushioned Dravid's poor form for 2 years and also helped India maintain no. 1 position. Gauti has done well in SA,NZ and got a fighting 80 in last OZ tour. He was also the best ODI bat for both OZ tri-series in'08/12 (scoring 100s against OZ/not SL there). They will come thru, esp Viru who is on cue to blast another 200/300 plus score. People forget Viru is a converted opener,look at awesome records still!

  • chilled_avenger on September 1, 2012, 16:09 GMT

    It has been nearly 3 years since Gautam Gambhir scored a Test century against a strong opposition! In fact he hasn't even scored a century in his last 22 tests,a period in which he averages a mediocre 28.21 with only 9 fifties in 39 innings. What's worse,he has passed 50 only three times in his last 21 innings! And yet some demand that he should be given the Test captaincy when actually he should be replaced by someone actually interested in Test cricket. Gambhir should realize that being an "IPL Star" does not mean he should be a shoo-in for a place in the Test team. Although I must admit that Gambhir has been in good touch in ODIs lately,which makes it puzzling to see him failing like this in Tests continuously! But hey,at least he has company,given that his opening partner Sehwag himself has gone without a Test century in his last 16 tests!

  • Naresh28 on September 1, 2012, 16:07 GMT

    DEFINITELY the biggest problem we have. We need tall built openers. The height will prevent fast pacer bowlers from getting on top of our openers. Whole of India and we cannot find good openers.

  • on September 1, 2012, 16:07 GMT

    Esp since Sehwag himself would prefer it - he should be dropped to 6, and Rahane brought in to open with GG. Pujara, Sachin & Virat can take the remaining slots. However well he may have batted today he was ok-ish, reasonably good, not earth-shattering - his technique is not tight enough to warrant a permanent place in the Test team.

  • on September 1, 2012, 16:04 GMT

    Time to retire Sachin too. It is time to open with Rehane and bring Sehwag lower in the order. May be number 4.

  • trueanalyst on September 1, 2012, 15:41 GMT

    Gambhir & Rahane should open for India followed by Pujara,Sehwag,Kohli & Rohit Sharma .It is really wonderful that Sehwag had performed exceptionally well as an Opener but the time has come for him to revert to the original position where he had scored a blistering debut hundred in SouthAfrica.The technically accomplished Rahane will definitely Succeed.There is no doubt of Rohit Sharma's prospects as a future great in Tests.His List A average is only 34 which is comparable to his ODI average of 31.It is really unfortunate that Rohit was blooded in ODIs in which he has a mediocre record even domestically .Rohit's real talent lies in the longer version but the poor fellow was chosen in a different version.Abhinav Mukund's potential was seen in England & Westindies in which he was an unmitigated disaster.

  • on September 1, 2012, 15:33 GMT

    Sehwag averages 35 outside Asia. He should not be opening, he should be in the middle order.

    Gambhir needs to be dropped from the team, he's been out of form for years. He hasn't hit a Test hundred for over 30 months.

    Get Rahane, Mukund, or Unmukt Chand in to open.

  • Rugsy on September 1, 2012, 15:30 GMT

    I could not agree more, especially about Sehwag. In his case, it is a matter of sheer indiscipline and lack of concern for the team. What is the rationale for indulging in suicidal strokes and getting out when your team needs a disciplined effort from you in the middle as an opener? I am sick and tired of commentators saying ad nauseum "This is how Sehwag plays" or "That's Viru's style after all". He has been tolerated enough. He should either shape up or be shipped out. We don't need failed prima donnas. Just look at his scores in the last 25 innings. It's shocking.

  • PageCricket on September 1, 2012, 15:27 GMT

    Yes .India must look beyond both Sehwag & Gambhir . Remove one of them and Rahane / Mukund deserve more chances . But lets give Sehwag & Gambhir one more chance in the upcoming England series .Lets hope that the selectors have some future plans

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  • PageCricket on September 1, 2012, 15:27 GMT

    Yes .India must look beyond both Sehwag & Gambhir . Remove one of them and Rahane / Mukund deserve more chances . But lets give Sehwag & Gambhir one more chance in the upcoming England series .Lets hope that the selectors have some future plans

  • Rugsy on September 1, 2012, 15:30 GMT

    I could not agree more, especially about Sehwag. In his case, it is a matter of sheer indiscipline and lack of concern for the team. What is the rationale for indulging in suicidal strokes and getting out when your team needs a disciplined effort from you in the middle as an opener? I am sick and tired of commentators saying ad nauseum "This is how Sehwag plays" or "That's Viru's style after all". He has been tolerated enough. He should either shape up or be shipped out. We don't need failed prima donnas. Just look at his scores in the last 25 innings. It's shocking.

  • on September 1, 2012, 15:33 GMT

    Sehwag averages 35 outside Asia. He should not be opening, he should be in the middle order.

    Gambhir needs to be dropped from the team, he's been out of form for years. He hasn't hit a Test hundred for over 30 months.

    Get Rahane, Mukund, or Unmukt Chand in to open.

  • trueanalyst on September 1, 2012, 15:41 GMT

    Gambhir & Rahane should open for India followed by Pujara,Sehwag,Kohli & Rohit Sharma .It is really wonderful that Sehwag had performed exceptionally well as an Opener but the time has come for him to revert to the original position where he had scored a blistering debut hundred in SouthAfrica.The technically accomplished Rahane will definitely Succeed.There is no doubt of Rohit Sharma's prospects as a future great in Tests.His List A average is only 34 which is comparable to his ODI average of 31.It is really unfortunate that Rohit was blooded in ODIs in which he has a mediocre record even domestically .Rohit's real talent lies in the longer version but the poor fellow was chosen in a different version.Abhinav Mukund's potential was seen in England & Westindies in which he was an unmitigated disaster.

  • on September 1, 2012, 16:04 GMT

    Time to retire Sachin too. It is time to open with Rehane and bring Sehwag lower in the order. May be number 4.

  • on September 1, 2012, 16:07 GMT

    Esp since Sehwag himself would prefer it - he should be dropped to 6, and Rahane brought in to open with GG. Pujara, Sachin & Virat can take the remaining slots. However well he may have batted today he was ok-ish, reasonably good, not earth-shattering - his technique is not tight enough to warrant a permanent place in the Test team.

  • Naresh28 on September 1, 2012, 16:07 GMT

    DEFINITELY the biggest problem we have. We need tall built openers. The height will prevent fast pacer bowlers from getting on top of our openers. Whole of India and we cannot find good openers.

  • chilled_avenger on September 1, 2012, 16:09 GMT

    It has been nearly 3 years since Gautam Gambhir scored a Test century against a strong opposition! In fact he hasn't even scored a century in his last 22 tests,a period in which he averages a mediocre 28.21 with only 9 fifties in 39 innings. What's worse,he has passed 50 only three times in his last 21 innings! And yet some demand that he should be given the Test captaincy when actually he should be replaced by someone actually interested in Test cricket. Gambhir should realize that being an "IPL Star" does not mean he should be a shoo-in for a place in the Test team. Although I must admit that Gambhir has been in good touch in ODIs lately,which makes it puzzling to see him failing like this in Tests continuously! But hey,at least he has company,given that his opening partner Sehwag himself has gone without a Test century in his last 16 tests!

  • Emancipator007 on September 1, 2012, 16:13 GMT

    There seems to be concerted efforts to doubt Viru's undoubted capabilities,even overseas. It was his 62 in 2nd inn in Centurion'10 which gave India the impetus to compete in that series after 1st innings capitulation. He began well in Adelaide too with 67 in 1st innings bf4 some loss of confidence. His last 3 innings 62,47,43 is hardly bad. I still maintain a fit & confident Viru (which he lost a bit after that surgery post IPL'11) would have averted those 8-0 losses.Fans,pundits forget that it was his raging form (along with Gambhir's peak period) which cushioned Dravid's poor form for 2 years and also helped India maintain no. 1 position. Gauti has done well in SA,NZ and got a fighting 80 in last OZ tour. He was also the best ODI bat for both OZ tri-series in'08/12 (scoring 100s against OZ/not SL there). They will come thru, esp Viru who is on cue to blast another 200/300 plus score. People forget Viru is a converted opener,look at awesome records still!

  • jay_vkjay on September 1, 2012, 16:15 GMT

    I forgot the last time an Indian opener scored a test century. I think India is the only Team among the top 8 test teams that their openers not scoring a hundred in the last one and half year or so. What happened to Gambhir? He is making hundreds in one dayers, got to electric starts in T20s, but failed miserably to red ball. Sehwags brisk scoring had converted draw matches to Indian victories. Nowadays he spoils every good start he gets and throws his wicket away. Time to test the new brigade of players at the top of the order. Rahane should have opened the batting.