Gambhir-Sehwag running out of time

The impact and importance of the Virender Sehwag-Gautam Gambhir duo at the top of the Indian batting line-up is beyond question. But time might soon run out for the most successful Indian opening pair, and the series against New Zealand, unfortunately, didn’t offer any bright signals.

Coming into the series, it offered a brilliant chance for Sehwag and Gambhir to silence detractors, growing in numbers by the day. After all, the opposition was New Zealand, who failed to win even against the West Indies.

In Hyderabad, Gambhir was dismissed for 22, while Sehwag promised a big one before perishing for 47. The story was no different in Bangalore, as the left-hander managed two and 34, while Sehwag put together 43 and 38.

It was indeed frustrating to see the two senior members in the side squandering perfect starts, and it has been a feature since December 2010, the last time they stitched together a century partnership – 137 against South Africa at Centurion. The highest partnership they constructed between that 137 and the 77 they made on Monday at the M Chinnaswamy stadium against New Zealand remains an 89 against the West Indies at Delhi in November 2011.

The brilliant form of Gambhir and Sehwag was one of the main reasons behind India’s rise to the top of ICC Test rankings, and there was a time when they couldn’t take a wrong step. Between March 2009 and January 2010, Gambhir had made five hundreds from eight innings, and his Test batting average too touched 50 during this period.

But since he made last of those five hundreds against Bangladesh in Chittagong, a three-figure mark has eluded him. “Scoring runs for the team is more important for me than the count of hundreds,” Gambhir had told this paper before embarking on the tour of Australia.

However, even the fifties haven’t come easily for the Delhi southpaw, and now 40 innings have elapsed since he made a hundred.

Sehwag faces a similar situation. His last international hundred came against New Zealand at Ahmedabad in 2010, and since then 30 innings have gone past him without a century.

The lack of runs is one thing, but what adds to the frustration is the manner in which they get out. Gambhir has been edging to the slip cordon with disturbing regularity, while Sehwag seems to have lost his appetite for big runs, losing his concentration too early in the innings, often resulting in tame dismissals through full tosses and half-volleys.

“I think Gautam is batting really well in the nets, and it’s just a matter of time that he does the same in matches too. Today also he was batting really well. He started off really well. So, we’re hoping he would come good in the coming games. Hope, Viru too comes good soon,” Dhoni said while defending his openers.

For the time being, they have faith of team management. But they need to produce big runs against England -- India’s next Test series-- because another failure could bring forth some unpleasant consequences.

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