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Gautam Gambhir has several strengths as a batsman but diving into his crease to try and protect his wicket isn't one of them
April 11, 2010
"What we've got here is [a] failure to communicate." The words immortalised by the sadistic, taciturn jailor in the classic Cool Hand Luke were apt for the manner in which Gautam Gambhir and David Warner were dismissed. Warner's run-out, three deliveries after he left Gambhir stranded, was down to poor calling but at least he put in a valiant dive. Gambhir turned around and barely made an attempt to get back, despite having clear view of the fielder's bad throw to Kumar Sangakkara. It's a weakness in Gambhir's terrific game and one that's becoming a recurring feature.
This was Gambhir's third successive run-out and the second one that proved a turning point in Delhi's defeat. He had bolted like a runaway caboose, scoring 26 from 11 balls, without hitting one in the air. His 12th was short and wide and he placed the ball to Juan Theron at short third man but responded to Warner's call. Then Warner stopped. Gambhir had no chance of getting back as Kumar Sangakkara collected a poor throw and flicked the ball back onto the stumps. He was furious with Warner for sending him back but he had made no effort to reach his crease.
Gambhir does most things right when running between the wickets. He carries the bat in the correct hand for easy turning; he accelerates from the crease, gets low at the other end, and makes sure the bat crosses over. But while he is an aggressive runner, Gambhir rarely dives. He is among the better runners but unlike others - JP Duminy, AB de Villiers, MS Dhoni, for instance - he's often unable to recover from a bad call because he's not keen to dive.
An emotional cricketer and one prone to getting carried away - just ask Shane Watson or Shahid Afridi - Gambhir is always up for a contest. That can translate into frenetic running, which can be both good and bad. Good when it puts pressure on fielders, bad when Gambhir's natural ability doesn't back that belligerence up.
Gambhir has been run out seven times in ODIs, twice in Tests and once in a Twenty20 international. Perhaps the most glaring example of his poor running was in India's defeat to Pakistan in Centurion during the ICC Champions Trophy. Chasing a stiff target, Gambhir had given India a rousing start but his first blunder, a lazy bit of running, swung the match Pakistan's way. He was left stranded mid-pitch and gave up hope too early, giving Younis Khan plenty of time to take aim and throw down the stumps. Replays showed a dive might have saved his wicket. All the way back Gambhir kept admonishing himself.
Playing for India is more important than the IPL, yet these two dismissals will irritate Gambhir. This aspect of his game is a chink in an otherwise solid wall, but one that's costing his team. One upshot of playing continuously is that setbacks are quickly forgotten for there is always something around the corner - victory or defeat - to get exercised over. For Delhi's sake, here's hoping Gambhir puts in a valiant dive soon.