Gambhir blames injury breaks for slump

Going into the second Test, he had stacked up four ducks in six innings, including three second-innings knocks. Now, he has made two fifties in successive innings.

“To be very honest, I didn’t play any cricket at one go. After the Asia Cup, I played one Test match and got injured,” Gambhir said. “Then I played another Test and got injured. I didn’t have too much match practice or runs. I always thought of spending some time in the middle and taking it forward from there. Playing continuously would have helped. I thought if I could play three or four Tests in a row, it would help and that is what has happened.

“I remember I had three ducks in the second innings this year. As an international cricketer, it keeps getting into your mind,” he said of the first-over dismissals. “I kept telling myself it is not about one over, it is about every ball, concentrating on each ball and taking it one ball at a time. The first-over dismissals were at the back of my mind but I consciously kept telling myself that it is about each and every ball.”

A persistent knee injury is what has kept Gambhir sporadically out, and the opener agreed that fielding constantly at short-leg had played its part in the injury.

“There is no one else who can field at that position in the present team,” he pointed out. “Till you get someone else, I have to be there. At one point, it used to bother me a lot.

Standing at short-leg for one-and-a half days and with two spinners bowling hardly gives your body time to recover. But since there is no one else, it’s a responsibility you need to take for the team.”

Batting with Virender Sehwag had helped him immensely in Hyderabad when he was desperately looking for runs, Gambhir admitted. “When you are not among runs, it is always difficult to bat with anyone. You need to score runs to be confident. It is about you scoring the runs. He kept giving me a lot of confidence in Hyderabad and I always wanted it. The kind of confidence he gave me throughout my innings was tremendous and I am thankful to him. But still, it is important for you to score runs, it does not matter how the other person is batting.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand paceman Tim Southee admitted that the visitors had been pushed on to the back foot.

“We didn’t score many runs in the first innings, and they have a great partnership going now,” he said. “Hopefully, we can pick up early wickets tomorrow and fight our way back into it.”

“I had a better rhythm in that second spell,” Southee explained. “It went from there and I tried to bowl wicket to wicket, got in a couple of good overs.

“You can’t be predictable, you just have to mix it up,” he said of his bouncer barrage to Tendulkar.

Of the Sehwag threat, he had this to say, “We know that Sehwag was going to bat like that. He has got off to a good start in every game. We have our plans right but we need to execute it better right from the start.”

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