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Why Gautam Gambhir’s Team India Days Are Over

Could age be the reason behind Gautam Gambhir being left out of India’s Champions Trophy squad?

Updated
Opinion
4 min read
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#WhereIsGambhir, asked an angry Twitterati after Gautam Gambhir was not designated a Champions Trophy spot. Why was an in-form player, who impressed in the 2016-2017 domestic season, and is among the top 5 run-getters in this IPL ignored by the selection committee?

That Gambhir’s bat has been destructive in the recent domestic games is not open to debate. Nor is his expertise. But much to the disillusionment of Gambhir fans, performances in the IPL do not warrant you a national spot, especially in tournaments as distinguished as the Champions Trophy, where the best in business lock horns and even a slight slip up is enough to dump you out of the tournament.

The selectors thus decided to play it safe and selected a side replete with the tried and tested players who have been there and performed under pressure.

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Competition From Colleagues

Given the competition for the opening slot in the Indian team, Gambhir’s chances to make an ODI comeback were always remote. Plus his age. At 35, he is more vulnerable to injuries than the others.

It can be assumed that the selectors focused on the 2019 World Cup while selecting the team for Champions Trophy, which, being an ICC tournament is a big platform for players to get nurtured.

Shikhar Dhawan has impressed this IPL, and while many might argue that these performances helped his chances, on closer assessment it becomes clear that there has been astute thinking behind this selection.

Could age be the reason behind Gautam Gambhir being left out of India’s Champions Trophy squad?
Shikhar Dhawan celebrates after scoring a century against West Indies during the Champions Trophy in 2013. (Photo: Reuters)

Dhawan emerged as the most successful player in the tournament in 2013, returning home with two trophies – man of the match (in the first match vs South Africa) and man of the series. His success in the 2013 Champions Trophy, which was also played in England, eclipsed his recent loss in form, especially during the India-England ODI series.

While Dhawan has enjoyed success on English pitches, Gambhir has not. He averages only 28.25 at a strike rate of 72 in England, but Dhawan boasts an average of 74.00.

The out of favor Gambhir has been playing only on Indian pitches since his last international game against England on home soil, which is why the selectors could not risk him on an alienated track.

Why Fix Something Which Is Not Broken?

Case in point is the partnership between Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. The two openers have complemented each other well. And since Rohit's inclusion was a certainty, Dhawan enjoyed another added benefit for his selection.

The duo first opened together for India on 6 June 2013 in a Champions Trophy match in Cardiff against South Africa. That partnership gave India a start of 127 runs, and it was followed by another century partnership against West Indies at the Oval in the same tournament.

Two consecutive century opening stands, that too on England pitches, was reason enough for the selectors to not overlook Dhawan.

They sit at the 14th position in the list of all-time highest run-getting opening pair, which is commendable since they’ve played only 54 innings together. They have stitched together 2,450 runs at an average of 46.22. This made Gambhir’s inclusion all the more difficult.

Could age be the reason behind Gautam Gambhir being left out of India’s Champions Trophy squad?
File photo of Rohit Sharma. (Photo: Reuters)

Playing well in franchise cricket is one thing, but being able to replicate that in an ICC tournament is another.

Performing well in franchise cricket, in Indian conditions, against uncapped bowlers is one thing. Replicating the same on a foreign pitch, which will be greener and offer more bounce, against world-class bowlers, is another.

A man with nearly grayish hair under his helmet is giving it his all to make a national comeback, like he has always done. And there is no denying the fact that his efforts will always be up there for whichever team he plays. Be it taking KKR to two IPL titles or performing consistently for Delhi in the domestic circuit. The eagerness to bring laurels to his country can be seen in Gambhir’s eye. But that seems unlikely unless one man’s injury opens the door for another.

It might appear to be a tough call, but when the dust settles and all euphoria subsides, it can be safely gauged that the selectors have done a decent job with the team and have not played to the gallery.

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