India v West Indies, 4th ODI, Indore December 7, 2011

Form hunt continues for Sehwag and Gambhir

Neither has played a significant innings since the World Cup, and India will hope they can find runs before boarding the flight to Australia

India's defeat in Ahmedabad was their first in 12 home ODIs, three short of the record created by Sri Lanka in 1996 and 1997. It's ODI cricket, you can lose to anybody, and streaks are understandably difficult to sustain. Still it was neither desirable nor expected that after three matches India could easily have been 2-1 down, or even 3-0, if only because of how easily they tamed their tormentors from the summer, England, in the return tour. The incredible belief that India carry into every home ODI - never mind the conditions - was tested thoroughly, and finally snapped in the third match.

West Indies might not seem as good on paper, but they have a larger number of dynamic players in their ODI squad than England do. After coming close in the first two ODIs, they eventually managed to put together a good enough team effort to topple India in Ahmedabad. India's problems have centred on the middle phase of the games, spread across both innings. Bowling first in all the games, they have failed to clean up the tail, and leaked runs generously in the end overs - 106 in the last 10 in Vizag, and 52 in the last three in Ahmedabad. In the first 10 overs of all matches put together, India have lost nine wickets, leaving Rohit Sharma a lot to do in company of the middle and lower-middle order.

The first part of the problem is not new to Indian ODI cricket, and is all the more expected given the inexperienced attack and captain. Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Abhimanyu Mithun and Vinay Kumar are all raw, and have bowed length balls once too often. "The last five overs did not make much of a difference as they have good hitters and we were expecting them to fire in the series," Virender Sehwag said. "They batted well, we tried everything - slow, back-of-a-length, good length, yorkers - but they connected [with] everything."

India will be more concerned with what has been happening immediately after the West Indies innings. Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir are yet to produce a single big innings since the World Cup, and have scored only 62 runs in six innings between them in this series. Of the two, Sehwag has always been an inconsistent ODI player, but Gambhir has been the big miss this series. Additionally, since his comeback to the national side, Parthiv Patel has failed to covert starts. It is a phase Dinesh Karthik went through when he was the back-up for MS Dhoni. Today, he is not even one of the top three keepers in the selectors' minds.

Sehwag conceded that the three needed to show up. "We have to look at our top order," he said. "We have to click and fire. We have to give a good start as a team so that we can achieve any target or set any target for the West Indies in the coming games.

"It is not only Raina who is not scoring runs. It is myself, Parthiv and Gautam too. Only Rohit and Kohli are scoring. We are top-order batsmen and it is our job to play well and give a good start. We need to look back at our batting performances. We are playing good cricket since sometime, but today [in Ahmedabad] we were not able to play well. We hope to do well and not let down our fans."

It is difficult to not look at Australia when considering the form of Sehwag and Gambhir, even though the latter has not been opening in ODIs, seemingly in order to accommodate Parthiv in the batting line-up. Both are one ordinary match away from going through 2011 without a Test century. India won't mind a couple of big partnerships from them and two easy wins before they go to Australia.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 8, 2011, 16:38 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas.. dat sounds little like a "lame excuse".. Jus coz, few bashed Dravid, u need not pull other Legend down.. Going by ur logic, if all Sachin fanatics start bashing Dravid, and Dravid fanatics start bashing Sachin, then u very well know, Dravid will gain more haters than Sachin.. I do believe that, U want Dravid to b loved all over the world.. (I do definitely DO) So, ur logic might backfire.. If u hv noticed one of comment in some other column(as a reply to ur post), I said that "When u bash SRT for nothing, I tend to look for negatives of Dravid and to my surprise I am getting too many.." I was afraid, i could lose my respect towards the gr8 man(Dravid).. So, full stopped that nonsense logic of tackling u.. I want to njoy both these gr8s playing together for my beloved country.. Hope u got my point..

  • Srinivas on December 8, 2011, 14:15 GMT

    @NN, much respects and peace bro. My fist steps on Cricinfo boards have been pretty harsh with some jaw dropping and hurtful name calling of Dravid by Sachin fans. It is not an overstatement to say that the phrase Dravid Bashers is synonymous with Sachin Fanatics. Since then, I took it on me to focus my microscope and search-light on Sachin. And yeah @Karthik Raja, there's something Dravidesque about you that cools me down very easily. Yeah, all mates, peace :D

  • Dummy4 on December 8, 2011, 11:35 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas. Even though, u got milder in Sachin bashing, somewhere in ur mind u enjoy pulling SRT's legs wherever u find a chance. I am pretty sure u wont mind if Lara, Kallis, Dravid or Punter for that case opts for such selective matches to make themselves available for longer period of time. U wud hv had a different theory then. Its all in ur MIND dear.. Else, hw can u stamp some1 who came back to play WC for his nation, the very next day after performing last rights for his father as a "SELFISH". If it was Dravid, u wud hv mentioned it at least 100 times by now.. One thing that SRT has LEAST achieved in his long cricket journey is a tag called "match finisher". Note that, I didn't say "Match Winner". He has played many match winning knocks. Many other of his famous knocks hav gone in vain.. Means, he enjoyed less support frm his team mates than the so called "Match winners". Logically, there r no match winners in cricket(esp, batsmen). May b, time 4 u to think out of box. :)

  • Nirad on December 8, 2011, 11:06 GMT

    @dravid gravitas nothing personal against you,,sorry if you have felt that can criticize sachin,, never said he is above criticism, but I just couldn't figure in what way he was he responsible for gambhir coming at one down in this series,,what you have suggested in your first comment is your own assumption as no one from team management or capt or anyone said it is bcoz of sachin gambhir is coming 1 down in this series,,,, so all that I am saying is your assumption may be wrong as you don't know what happens in the dressing room....all I am saying is we can only judge someone by their performance but not on what we might think is going through their mind bcoz of someone else....human mind is very complicated..even for you to judge.

  • Vinod on December 8, 2011, 11:04 GMT

    this handle drXX_XXs has only one agenda and that is to make SRT look bad somehow. he will bend out of shape, make asinine comments, won't back up his claim with the facts with only one item on his agenda. don't feed the troll. his today's gem is that gambhir is better as an opener in ODIs than SRT. and gambhir is being wasted at #3. hahahahaha.

  • Dummy4 on December 8, 2011, 10:32 GMT

    Gambhir scored 3 fifties of the four innings he played in SA in Tests. After that, Gambhir has been bit shady in tests, but how can one question his form in ODI's. He scored four fifties in world cup ( including one that won us the cup) averaging around 45. He was the second highest run scorer for India in WC. Currently against England, he scored couple of half-centuries. How can you question his place in ODI's when he's still at 12 in ICC ODI rankings. As for Tests, if there can be any replacement for Gambhir( with an average of 48) in Tests, go for it. But before that first find a good replacement for No. 6 . After trying Badrinath, Yuvraj, Kohli, Raina, Pujara.....still Ganguly's replacement has not been found, and people talk about dsturbing a reputed pair of openers. Give me one name who has performed fairly well in absence of any of these two. Sum one said Jaffer??? Lolz

  • Satish on December 8, 2011, 10:16 GMT

    They got it right today.. This is what was missing.. Bat first without any pressure and responsibility :-)

  • Dummy4 on December 8, 2011, 9:40 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas.. Yes.. I can observe the slightest change in ur recent comments abt Sachin..:)) Even I am one of the Sachin fans which u mentioned.. The difference between myself and them might b - I hv read ur other comments which has u earned some respect frm me.. I am damn sure, that most of the Sachin fans u come across will b d ones who followed Indian cricket since 90s.. Only they knw the worth of Sachin to Indian cricket.. back to ur point.. U can call thm convenient exits r wtever.. Bt, it surely helps Team's cause.. And none of his comebacks r untimely.. Every1 can predict wt ODIs will he play.. He plays only big ODIs and he has done justice to his comeback every time.. Coz of wt he has done to Indian cricket, he can afford for such cushion.. Few (including u) may belittle wt he has done to Indian cricket, bt many cricketing legends including OUR fav Dravid knws it.. U can better check wid him(Dravid).. :))

  • Dummy4 on December 8, 2011, 9:13 GMT

    Like your views .....................................................................

  • Nirad on December 8, 2011, 8:58 GMT

    @Dravid gravitas blaming sachin for the failure of gambhir is simply not correct...and sachin can have his rest periods as he wishes because he is the god just kiddin haha....nothing wrong with it because he wants to extend his career and he playing in the tough series where we require his services to win not like he is skipping the hard ones and playing easy ones.....which is more important and gambhir is not new to no.3 as you are suggesting that he will face difficulties to adjust and infact he has scored better at no.3 (marginally)than as an openor

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