Is this the end of the Delhi Duet?

Mumbai: Gautam Gambhir's double act with Virender Sehwag seems to be well and truly over after the national selectors struck on Sunday, omitting the diminutive left-handed batsman from the squad named for the first two Tests against Australia.

That the durable openers have been under pressure and the Test series defeat at home against England late last year, after the routs in England and Australia, have only heightened concerns over their failures that put extra pressure on a young middle-order.

The selectors ended the ODI pairing when Sehwag was left out for the series against England. The explosive batsman's impact value is higher and he had scored a century in the first Test against England. Though there were hopes that Gambhir would get one last opportunity to shake off what seemed to technical as well as confidence issues, the selectors seemed to have pushed for a change with an eye on the future.

Also Read:

Gambhir dropped from Indian Test squad
Comebacks are always hard: Harbhajan
Can this Indian side beat Australia?
Change in batting approach helped: Dhawan

Opening salvo

While Murali Vijay has been retained in the squad after he did not get to play against England, left-hander Shikhar Dhawan's inclusion as a reserve opener ahead of the 34-year-old Mumbai stalwart Wasim Jaffer, who has just ended another prolific domestic season, also seemed to be a desperate attempt to shape the team for battles ahead.

Gambhir has in fact been directed to captain the India A squad in the three-day warm-up tie against Australia from February 16, replacing Dhawan in the side, which should keep him in the frame for any recall. The decisiveness of the Sandeep Patil-led panel in the batsman's case will also keep Sehwag under pressure to perform.

Vijay comes off a century in the Irani Cup, which helped Rest of India claim the tie against Ranji champions Mumbai and will go into the tie with some confidence. The Chennai batsman had scored a half-century in the one-day warm up match against England late last year. Dhawan scored a half-century in the first innings of the Irani Cup, but fell again to his tendency of not making the most once he gets set.

Lack of options

It is not just batting where India have concerns. Harbhajan Singh's recall also suggests there are few quality replacement options in the spin department. The off-spinner was recalled after more than a year to play in the second Test against England in Mumbai as the third spinner, but was ordinary and was promptly dropped.

The combative off-spinner has showed signs of finding his rhythm again in the Ranji semis against Saurashtra and in the Irani Cup. But his inclusion - he is on 99 Tests - is as much owing to the fact that Ravichandran Ashwin's ability to take wickets has diminished as he grapples with trying out too many variations.

The story is the same in the pace department, where injuries have ruled out Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav. Ishant Sharma will share the new ball with either with Uttar Pradesh seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar or Ashok Dinda. Kumar has the ability to swing the ball and was impressive in the ODI series against Pakistan and England, but will be tested in the five-day game.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Preview — Given the firepower in both line-ups, Dubai crowd may see another high-scorer More »

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Preview — The threat of Sunil Narine looms large again. More »

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone … More »

[REWIND] The world record that nearly wasn't

[REWIND] The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

Dalmiya feels that Srinivasan’s ‘power hungry’ attitude isn’t helping matters. More »

It's getting increasingly tough for bowlers: Ajmal

It's getting increasingly tough for bowlers: Ajmal

The 36-year-old believes the T20 format and rule changes in 50-over matches have made a real difference. More »

Moores set for England recall

Moores set for England recall

The 51-year-old will succeed Andy Flower, who stepped down after five years in charge following the 5-0 Ashes defeat in Australia in January. More »

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

BCCI members want independent probe

BCCI members want independent probe

The board members are realising after the Supreme Court's observations that something has to be done — IS Bindra More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Stressed Trott stands down again

Stressed Trott stands down again

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday confirmed that batsman Jonathan Trott is to take another break from all cricket with immediate eff… More »

PCB starts another coach hunt

PCB starts another coach hunt

The PCB has decided to not extend the contracts of head coach Moin Khan, fielding coach Shoaib Mohammad and batting consultant Zaheer Abbas, and has invited… More »

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

England all-rounder Ben Stokes admits he must keep his anger under control if he is to end his international exile. More »

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistani cricket authorities have launched an investigation after a number of current international stars played in exhibition matches in the United States… More »

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

The BCCI will hold an emergent working committee meeting on April 20 to discuss the future course of action with regard to the Supreme Court hearing concerning… More »

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

"Integrity is non-negotiable..." says the BCCI's interim chief ahead of Season 7 of the tainted league. More »

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Chennai have an emphatic 8-3 lead in the head-to-head with Punjab, with one game tied More »

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

The 38-year-old South African veteran turned it on for Kolkata Knight RIders in the opening match of IPL-7. More »

Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

A quality that defines Rajasthan and Hyderabad is consistency. Rajasthan was one among two teams to enjoy complete dominance at home last season. Hyderabad… More »