The rise of the Indian Openers


Thanks to Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Murali Vijay, India’s worries about its openers has finally come to an end. And where that only bodes well for the team, it leaves a harsher truth for the nation’s cricketing palate to swallow about the team’s erstwhile openers, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.

Once seen as a formidable twosome, it wasn’t long before inconsistencies plagued both Sehwag’s and Gambhir’s game crippling the team the most when it needed these two guys to do what they were fabled for. Though the selectors did take their time to overlook these guys and choose other meriting players for the slot, the excellence that the likes of Dhawan, Sharma and Vijay have consistently displayed only makes matters difficult for Sehwag and Gambhir.

The pages of the Indian cricketing annals may be filled with Sehwag’s and Gambhir’s contributions at the top of the order. But in light of the way their performance went on to taper off completely, all of their illustriousness becomes a mere vestige of the past. Juxtaposed with these vestigial memories, is the present then. It is a present that accounts for a more stronger and formidable team; against all opponents and most significantly, on all cricketing arenas – home as well as abroad. All of these thus make it worse for Sehwag and Gambhir looking at making a possible comeback. Invaluable they may have been, even to a certain extent indispensable. But irreplaceable, they certainly weren’t.

In the ever-existing conflict of ‘greater good’ between players and the team’s success, even the most brilliant player finds himself an outcast in case of any unexpected slide in his performance. There’s no escaping that just as there’s no player who can escape a sudden downwind to his career graph. But as inevitable and unavoidable this fate is; it’s equally difficult to notch a comeback for players cast aside thus. Difficult but by no means impossible.

When Sehwag came into the Indian openers’ ranks making an ascendancy from down the order, he literally blitzkrieged his way past his opponents. Teams shied and cowered from him, bowlers feared his onslaught. Soon enough, he was the new-gen replica of his idol – Sachin Tendulkar – playing however, with a lot more ferocity and aggression. On the other hand, when Gambhir made his way into the Indian top-order, the move seemed like a foregone conclusion – the transition not really surprising. The camaraderie that both these guys brought forth, one attacking while the other played a bit more sedately, then ensured that the team’s capitalizing.

Contrary to what may have been expected, the sidelining of these guys then didn’t really make heads turn away from the ones potentially expected to take over the role. Dhawan, Vijay and Sharma too had as seamless a transition taking on the mantle as openers in tests and ODIs as their predecessors before them. Had they flunked – Rohit Sharma still finds himself being critically analyzed – the situation would have been graver, perhaps even a bit kinder to the chances of Sehwag and Gambhir seeking to re-enter the team.

But since all three players have gone on from strength to strength, there is no recourse for Sehwag and Gambhir except to wait and watch out. Completeness – a word always associated with the likes of the Australians and West Indians now is an oft repeated word for the Indian cricketing paradigm. There’s no loophole or vulnerability anywhere where the Indian cricket team lacks or could possibly lack. Even if, the team does fall short in the coming days, there’s however no saying whether Sehwag and Gambhir would be considered again to make their way back into the squad. And even if they do make a comeback in the distant horizon and so succeed, anticipating the duo to reach the same heights that they achieved while at the peak of their career would be a day-dream with no basis in objectivity. But since the realms of subjectivity are a different consideration altogether, perhaps that’s where fans’ minds would war with their hearts – a scenario not just peculiar to Sehwag and Gambhir but to various others before them and an equally huge number after them.


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