New Delhi, March 18 -- While the Indians were scything through the Aussie batting line-up at Mohali for a win inside four days, made possible by their new opening pair, the just-discarded duo of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir was taking fresh guard together some 300 km away in Gurgaon.
Just a handful of people at the secluded 'green' TERI Gram - built on power-saving techniques - witnessed the duo's spine-tingling start to a 161-run chase in the Syed Mushtaq Ali national T20 opener against Punjab.
Clad in Delhi's yellow and blue, away from fans and media with Sehwag even dumping his spectacles, they, as MS Dhoni insists in media sessions, 'expressed themselves'.
Sehwag found the meat early against paceman Sandeep Sharma, glancing one to fine leg and then clearing mid on; an edge to third man fence completed the over.
Gambhir, deciding not to play the sheet anchor he is known for, survived jitters. Siddharth Kaul got some bounce that left Gambhir missing a couple of swats and then mistiming one.
Through the early part, while Viru blazed away to a 26-ball 36, the Gauti rushed into his shots. He was dropped twice, survived a run-out chance once.
But he soon found his groove when a full delivery was creamed through covers. From thereon, Gambhir waited, saw and smashed.
After Sehwag was caught short of his crease in a rather clumsy manner, not grounding his bat even after reaching the crease, and Unmukt Chand holing one to deep point for a duck, Gambhir took charge and guided the chase as Puneet Bisht went berserk.
The Viru-Gauti combine realized 76 in just 8.3 overs.
When Sehwag last played in national T20s - just last season - he was eyeing return to India team from injury.
Since then, he has been axed from the T20 squad, then from the ODI squad and finally from Tests. This time though, he seems to be eyeing a return - as a pair with Gambhir.
Punjab 160/7 (Gurkeerat 57, M Sidhana 35, V Sood 2/24, P Negi 2/36, P Awana 1/37) lost to Delhi 162/4 in 19.1 overs (G Gambhir 68*, V Sehwag 36, P Bisht 32)
J&K 108/7 (S Khajuria 61, I Khan 2/16, A Sakuja 2/23) lost to Services 109/5 in 19.2 overs (N Verma 39*, R Paliwal 22) by five wickets.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.