New Zealand in India 2016-17 September 27, 2016

Gambhir back in Test squad after two years

ESPNcricinfo staff
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Numbers leading to Gambhir's Test comeback

Opening batsman Gautam Gambhir has returned to India's Test set-up two years after playing his previous international. He was called up for the remaining home Tests against New Zealand in place of the injured KL Rahul. Rahul had injured his right hamstring during the first Test in Kanpur, while running between the wickets.

Also, fast bowler Ishant Sharma, who missed the first Test with chikungunya, will not play the second Test either as he is yet to recover fully. Uncapped Haryana offspinner Jayant Yadav will replace Ishant in the squad for the second Test in Kolkata. The BCCI said in a release that it would "continue to monitor Ishant's progress".

Gambhir was picked after showing good form in the Duleep Trophy, the domestic first-class tournament featuring the top-performing players in the country. He scored 356 runs in the competition from five innings at 71.20, and was dismissed only once without getting to a half-century.

A BCCI insider said Gambhir was tough to ignore in the current situation given his form and experience. "Gambhir is definitely under consideration because he has been doing extremely well, and even the team management feels that with 12-13 Test matches coming up there needs to be some experience [at the top]," the official said.

Gambhir, 34, played his last Test in August 2014, on India's tour to England. He aggregated 25 runs on that tour, from four innings, as India went from a 1-0 lead to losing the five-match series 3-1. That series, too, was a comeback for him, as he was dropped in 2012 and missed all India's Tests in 2013 due to a sharp decline in form.

Before that, though, he was one half of India's successful opening partnership with Virender Sehwag. The pair scored 4412 runs, the most by an opening pair for India in Tests. Overall, he has 4046 runs in 56 Tests at 42.58, with nine centuries, and was a regular in the Test team between 2008 and 2012.

Rahul was picked to play the Kanpur Test over the more experienced Shikhar Dhawan. On the preceding tour to the West Indies, too, he had been picked over either Dhawan or M Vijay in three of the four Tests, scoring a fifty and a hundred in three innings.

Apart from his offspin, Jayant, 26, can also contribute runs down the order. He put in solid performances on India A's recent tour of Australia, picking up seven wickets in the unofficial Tests at 22.57 apiece. In the 2014-15 Ranji Trophy he topped Haryana's bowling charts with 33 wickets, and in March this year he claimed a match haul of eight against Mumbai in the Irani Cup - a first-class match that pits the season's Ranji champions against a Rest of India XI. He also has a first-class double-ton to his name and a record-breaking eighth-wicket stand of 392, scored in partnership with Amit Mishra in 2012.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • royalg9486218 on September 30, 2016, 6:48 GMT

    Stuart Binny would have been a good option and India should slowly and slowly develop him as an opener. He has the temperament to open the innings for India in all formats.

    Dhoni never gave him a fair chance and Kohli should not do the same mistake. Also his agile fielding and good medium pace bowling will come in handy.

    Give him a chance for a minimum of 5 years so that he can settle in as a good alrounder in the team

  • rezwan5540430 on September 29, 2016, 19:36 GMT

    you cannot play Gambhir just because he is in good form. Dhawan was in the squad before him. Dhawan should be the one who plays.

  • Achhar on September 29, 2016, 17:27 GMT

    The selection in Indian cricket team after 2 years is amazing, He has really very good performer on the Indian pitch after Master Blaster Sachin tendulkar on the same value of test matches played in India. He has set some big score when team facing the crucial situation. I like his come backing in the Indian squad. And best wishes to Gauti for his Future.

  • Wasim on September 29, 2016, 13:37 GMT

    One thing I would like Ghambir to improve on is avoid getting Caught. Looking at the stats taken from Cricinfo, He has got Caught 52 times. Wow that is staggering considering next dismissals which is LWB is only 23 times.

    Only positive is he has done quite ok against New Zealand scoring 670 runs at an AVG of 48 . So he should be fine considering he is playing in Indian conditions where the ball doesn't swing much.

  • Arun Kumar on September 29, 2016, 13:02 GMT

    I would watch this test just to see Gambhir play. Gambhir has been the real team man and a great performer under pressure. I watched his innings in world cup final. He played that innings with Kohli and absorbed all the pressure and scored 97. If he had scored 3 more runs, he would have got recognition(unfortunately, for us, there is huge diff between 100 and 97) I also remember a test match (with England I guess.. not sure) he played an uncharacteristic slow innings to save the test match which(situation demanded). Hopefully, he will get a game here

  •   Chris Silva on September 29, 2016, 12:18 GMT

    When teams have to call upon yester year players they must be desperate.What is wrong with selecting a young player from the many India has. Too many hypothesis, too many managers.

  • Rahul on September 29, 2016, 10:53 GMT

    Jumbo, our Head coach had conveyed the message to Gauti and Yuvi. I was going through all the posts...abhinav mukund, shreyas iyer, samson, karun nair, manish pandey. No doubt they are good but you cannot ignore experience. An ideal team is made with a combination of youth and experience. With a long season ahead and with injuries, some of them surely will get a chance. However, having said that you cannot ignore the services of class players like Gauti and Yuvi. On their day, they can do anything. They should and need to get a chance. Age is not a factor if your body and mind is fit enough to play. Looking forward to see Guati in whites and Yuvi in India blues. These players have done wonders for the country and deserve chances. Coach and captain along with selectors very well know what they are doing.

  • Suryaputra on September 29, 2016, 7:43 GMT

    @JOSE...P: I agree with you there. Looking at the schedule, I really wish they manage Ashwin and Jadeja better. Problem is, our third (or reserve, depending on how you see it) spinner Mishra,doesn't inspire the confidence that Ash and Jaddu do. Hopefully they will bring in Jayant, Kuldeep and other domestic performers with form and numbers behind them from time to time.

    Those 5 back to back England Tests are going to be a big task for sure. And I hope Indian players put in a lot of fitness work to last the season. Thankfully they don't have to look far for inspiration. Virat with his razor sharp focus on fitness and preparation is a good role model for all our players.

  • Rahul on September 29, 2016, 6:12 GMT

    Selecting Gambhir is a regressive move. He most certainly should not have been selected. I really like Gambhir, quite honestly he is one of the finest batsman India has produced and no doubt is phenomenal in all styles of the game. However, Gambhir is past his prime and has utmost 3 years left in him. Keeping him out this long has not really affected the performance, so with that in mind, it is better to give chances to upcoming young players who can be around for the next 8-10 years.

  • Himanshu on September 29, 2016, 4:58 GMT

    As per original plan if one opener is unavailable then backup steps in (dhawan). Gauti is replacing dhawan as backup. Kohli will go as per plan because this doesnt involve rohit.