The first thing that will strike you about him, is the ease with which he operates from the crease. The manner in which he slips into a stance, bat slowly moving between the pads, moving comfortably onto the front foot, before getting behind the ball. Knife on butter. When he gets on top of the delivery, the man picks the gap with a silken grace that is pleasing to watch.
When the cut shot is on offer, the feet move towards off-stump, and he moves closer to the ball. The elbows move inward, bat in tow, as the slash sends the ball past point for four. The man can drive, nice firm step forward, elbow out, with loads of timing. The head keeps still, with an expression that betrays nothing. Not happiness, not even a smile, maybe a shrinking dimple behind the beard. The same when he takes a foot forward, and leaves the cherry alone, not before making sure that nothing is left to chance.
Turns out that he can play spin too. From the batting crease on one toe, towards the ball or with one stiff leg, on the back foot. Against Ojha in the Irani Trophy game against the Rest of India, he moves his feet, and hits a six on the run. The flick with one leg static, is not only pre-determined, but equally effective, in bringing forth a boundary. Give him a short ball, and he can pull it off, with every effort made to keep the ball, as far away from the fielder’s hands as possible.
Don’t forget that you don’t have to ask him to calm down. With these strokes in his book, is it time to give him another shot at playing a second inning in Indian colours?
Face it. India’s openers are struggling. And the man who has scored 32 centuries in the Ranji Trophy- the most by any batsman, continues to deliver. He might have played his last Test in 2008, but with 16049 first-class runs against his name as on date, the numbers are simply too hard to ignore.
That the batsman who has amassed the most number of runs in the Ranji Trophy, isn't in the India A squad, or in the Board President's XI for the practice game against Australia, is a glaring omission. So what could be the reason behind keeping the man out of the Indian team?
Age. He is 34 years old.
Is it fair to say that he is a little too old to open for India again? On the one hand, we say that we lack options, on the other, we want to ensure that the best thing that can be done about it, is to wait for the present openers, to re-discover their own form, at a much bigger cost to the team. Whether there is a opening available in the team, is a question that answers itself. Or is it open and shut?
There is safety in numbers.
Beamer: Who has the opener?
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