IPL 2014 April 18, 2014

Crunch time for Sehwag and Gambhir

The former Indian openers haven't been shining lately, but the IPL presents an opportunity for them to show their class

Virender Sehwag is one of only two batsmen to have a 30-plus average and a 150-plus strike rate in three IPL seasons © BCCI

Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have been top-notch performers for India for several years, but over the last year and a half, things have been different. Both struggled for runs in their last few international matches, have been out of the national team for more than a year, and Sehwag also had a particularly tough time in domestic cricket this season, while Gambhir did reasonably well in the Ranji Trophy but struggled in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the domestic 50-over tournament.

All of this makes the 2014 IPL more important for them than most seasons in the past. Admittedly this is only a 20-over tournament, the quality of players is uneven, and runs in this format have little bearing on a batsman's prospects in other formats. However, this is also a format that is tough on batsmen who are struggling and are looking to regain form. Yuvraj Singh found this out in the World T20 (though unlike Yuvraj, both Gambhir and Sehwag play at the top of the order and hence have more time to play themselves in). Both players are looking to regain their national slots, which makes this tournament important for them: a good run in the IPL may not necessarily make them certainties for the next ODI or even the next T20I, but a poor run in the tournament will certainly throw them out of national contention in the shorter formats.

So far in their IPL careers, both Sehwag and Gambhir have done very well. Sehwag's strength has been his incredible strike rate: with a 20-innings cut-off, his strike rate of 160.32 is marginally better than Chris Gayle's 160.20, and significantly better than anyone else's - the third-best is Harbhajan Singh's 149.58, followed by Yusuf Pathan's 146.97. Along with scoring quickly, Sehwag has also taken advantage of batting at the top of the order, going past 50 on 16 occasions, including one century. He had a relatively quiet time last season, scoring at a strike rate of 126.60, but before that had a 160-plus rate in four out of five seasons.

Gambhir's strength in the past has been his consistency; he has made 30 or more runs 34 times in 88 innings. He has gone past 50 on 20 occasions, a record he jointly holds with Gayle. His 291 fours in the tournament are second only to Sachin Tendulkar's 295. Like Sehwag, though, Gambhir's 2013 season was below par - though he scored 406 runs, the strike rate was only 118.36.

Virender Sehwag in each IPL season
Season Inngs Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
2008 14 406 33.83 184.54 0/ 3
2009 11 198 19.80 143.47 0/ 1
2010 14 356 25.42 163.30 0/ 3
2011 11 424 38.54 176.67 1/ 2
2012 16 495 33.00 161.23 0/ 5
2013 13 295 24.58 126.60 0/ 1
Gautam Gambhir in each IPL season
Season Inngs Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
2008 14 534 41.07 140.89 0/ 5
2009 15 286 22.00 102.87 0/ 1
2010 10 277 30.77 127.64 0/ 2
2011 15 378 34.36 119.24 0/ 2
2012 17 590 36.87 143.55 0/ 6
2013 16 406 25.37 118.36 0/ 4

As mentioned earlier, both batsmen have been less than impressive in the domestic season. Sehwag's 2013-14 Ranji Trophy was especially wretched: in 13 innings his highest was 56, while he was dismissed for 15 or below nine times. Gambhir was much better in the Ranji Trophy, consistently getting starts: he went past 25 on 11 occasions, which is a huge contrast to Sehwag's early dismissals. In the one-day games, though, Gambhir had more problems, scoring 127 from five innings in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, and 13 from two Deodhar Trophy games - a total of 140 in seven innings. Sehwag played only two matches in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, scoring a total of 25.

However, both batsmen showed some form in the 20-over Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy earlier this month, which augurs well for their fortunes over the next 45 days: Gambhir scored 162 runs at an average of 54 and a strike rate of 123.66, while Sehwag made 180 at an average of 45 and a strike rate of 131.38.

Sehwag and Gambhir in Ranji Trophy 2013-14
  Inngs Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Virender Sehwag 13 234 19.50 0/ 1
Gautam Gambhir 13 578 48.16 1/ 3
Sehwag and Gambhir in the List A matches in 2014
  Inngs Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Virender Sehwag 2 25 12.50 89.28 0/ 0
Gautam Gambhir 7 140 20.00 57.61 0/ 1
Sehwag and Gambhir in T20 domestic matches in 2014
  Inngs Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Virender Sehwag 4 180 45.00 131.38 0/ 1
Gautam Gambhir 4 162 54.00 123.66 0/ 1

The 2013 IPL was a poor one for Sehwag - his strike rate was less than 130 - but in the seasons before that he was consistently among the best in most seasons. Overall, there have been only 18 instances of a batsman averaging more than 30 in a season at a strike rate of over 150 (with a ten-innings cut-off); along with Gayle, Sehwag is the only batsman to achieve this feat three times - he did so in 2008, 2011 and 2012. Gayle has achieved it in the last three years - 2011, 2012 and 2013. AB de Villiers and MS Dhoni have done it twice each, while eight others have achieved it once.

Batsmen who have averaged 30+ at a 150+ strike rate in an IPL season (Qual: 10 inngs)
Batsman Season Inngs Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Chris Gayle 2011 12 608 67.55 183.13 2/ 3
Chris Gayle 2012 14 733 61.08 160.74 1/ 7
Chris Gayle 2013 16 708 59.00 156.29 1/ 4
Virender Sehwag 2008 14 406 33.83 184.54 0/ 3
Virender Sehwag 2011 11 424 38.54 176.66 1/ 2
Virender Sehwag 2012 16 495 33.00 161.23 0/ 5
AB de Villiers 2012 13 319 39.87 161.11 0/ 3
AB de Villiers 2013 14 360 36.00 164.38 0/ 2
MS Dhoni 2011 13 392 43.55 158.70 0/ 2
MS Dhoni 2013 16 461 41.90 162.89 0/ 4
Adam Gilchrist 2009 16 495 30.93 152.30 0/ 3
Sanath Jayasuriya 2008 14 514 42.83 166.34 1/ 2
David Miller 2013 12 418 59.71 164.56 1/ 3
Yusuf Pathan 2008 15 435 31.07 179.01 0/ 4
Suresh Raina 2013 17 548 42.15 150.13 1/ 4
Robin Uthappa 2010 14 374 31.16 171.55 0/ 3
Murali Vijay 2010 15 458 35.23 156.84 1/ 2
Shane Watson 2008 15 472 47.20 151.76 0/ 4

However, Sehwag's form has dipped significantly since those glory days, which means 150-plus strike rates are no longer par for the course for him. Expectations aren't necessarily so high, but that might not be such a bad thing. Similarly, Gambhir has fallen a few notches since his best days, but over the next month and a half, both will get opportunities to show they still have the hunger and the hand-eye coordination to take on the best bowlers.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sandeep on April 23, 2014, 9:50 GMT

    It will tough for guys like Yuvraj, Gambhir and Sehwag to become regulars in all the formats in the future, with only Yuvraj is still in with some chance in my opinion. If he proves consistent over the IPL, i feel he will be considered for the shorter formats. But it will be especially difficult for Gambhir and Sehwag with India having younger and performing openers at the moment. The added fielding skills of the young openers will also be a factor against the older pair.

  • Rajesh on April 21, 2014, 12:01 GMT

    Its curtains for both these guys- The 2 games which they have played this year are good enough indicators of the days to come. With Dhawan and Rohit Sharma being certainties in all 3 formats for India, the door seems to have closed completely on these 2 guys.

  • Dummy4 on April 20, 2014, 13:44 GMT

    There should be a clear criteria to rank players, and be chance to represent India. This should be very transparent and easy to understand by both players and fans. Past performance should be considered but have less weight. India team should be based upon payers performance rather than names. Lately the selectors have done good job, yet leaves doubt on certain players being selected. A transparent criteria will also make their job simple.

  • Dummy4 on April 19, 2014, 20:45 GMT


    It is time to move on, no doubt. Given his technique, lack of footwork and reliance on high hand-eye coordination, Sehwag was never to have a long career like a Gavaskar.

    Tough to measure everyone against the standards of a Gavaskar, Dravid and Tendulkar. I do think you are not mentioning that Sehwag has been one of the most successful openers of all time.. Please pull a stat pull of test openers only with at least 50 innings and see for yourself where Sehwag is.. He does have nothing to apologize for.

  • Dummy4 on April 19, 2014, 5:03 GMT

    " 2014 Indian T20 league" - not IPL -- Why????

  • Nikhil on April 18, 2014, 21:01 GMT

    @Manu Kamin, yes strange indeed. And Teams are being referred to by city names, instead of franchise names (Mohali Vs Bangalore, Delhi Vs Kolkata). Not sure why.

  • Paul on April 18, 2014, 18:29 GMT

    What's the deal with calling IPL the Indian T20 League, everywhere across the site IPL has been renamed as Indian T20 League? Do the current and past alleged scandals do not make it "premier" anymore? Even the teams are being referred to as Jaipur instead of Rajasthan Royals or Mohali instead of Kings XI Punjab. Curious to find these answers

  • ESPN on April 18, 2014, 16:06 GMT

    Both are finished now. India must move on.

  • Dummy4 on April 18, 2014, 10:36 GMT

    india needs gautam both in tests and odi. we have two important test tours to england and australia before the world cup..india needs him as one off the three openers along with dhawan and vijay. India should not get carried away just with the world cup and ignore these 2 test series..the last four overseas tours where india has lost 10 out of the 12 tests have undone all the good work done ever since the ganguly era.Dhoni should not overlook these two tours .

  • Dummy4 on April 18, 2014, 9:34 GMT

    why is the word "IPL" not used anywhere in the cricinfo website, of late? It is referred to as Indian T20 league.

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