Gautam Gambhir: Once India’s captain-in-waiting, now awaiting comeback

By Suyash Srivastava | Updated: Nov 30, 2013, 17:02 PM IST

Despite having done well in his recent exams, Gautam Gambhir would have felt like a nervous kid when the Indian selectors met on Monday to announce the ‘results’ ahead of the South African tour. He would have gone through some mixed feelings, as just days ago he had slammed 153 runs against Haryana in Ranji Trophy match. But he wouldn’t have been confident of a spot, as he knew he wasn’t in the good books of MS Dhoni. And his fear came true when the results were announced – he had failed to make a comeback, once again.

There is no rocket science to fathom why Gambhir wasn’t chosen for the Proteas tour. Two discarded senior players – Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan too went in exile for quite some time, but finally made a comeback. While Virender Sehwag didn’t come up with anything substantial to deserve a place, Gambhir played some crucial knocks in the Ranji Trophy. In the same match where Zaheer Khan scalped a five-fer against Delhi, Gambhir too slammed two consecutive half-centuries – 64* and 51, which surprisingly weren’t enough. It looks like Gambhir may have had to pay for his past animosity with Dhoni.

It is also possible that Gambhir might not be able to play for the Indian team till the time it is led by MS Dhoni. The team environment seems to be perfect, and once Dhoni was given the team he always wanted, the results have been phenomenal as India have now won six ODI titles in a row this year. Thus, for any reason, the Indian skipper wouldn’t take a chance of getting Gambhir back into the team, which could change the equation of the in-form squad.

Gambhir, however, has a slight chance of making a comeback if openers – Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay fail terribly overseas. Indian batsmen look unstoppable on the home soil, but a failure abroad changes the mindset. Dhawan has had an incredible year so far and it would be interesting to see whether he can continue his good form in South Africa as well. Murali Vijay on the other hand still needs to prove his worth at the international level.

While the selectors made a good move by including Zaheer Khan in the squad, they could have easily selected Gambhir, who has the experience of batting under seaming conditions. So if form is anything to go by, the 32-year-old certainly deserved a place in the Test squad.

The question is - how long will it take for Gambhir to make a comeback? Probably till the time Dhoni doesn’t hang his boots? But wait, even if Dhoni retires, the man who is likely to lead the squad next, isn’t a friend of Gambhir either. Even though Virat Kohli hails from Gambhir’s hometown, things went murky between the two when they got involved in a verbal feud in the Indian Premier League earlier this year.

The current phase for Gambhir would be a very tough one for him. Despite doing well in the domestic circuit, he would be obviously frustrated because there isn’t any certainty about his future in Indian cricket. He might continue to score some more big knocks, but they won’t guarantee his spot in the team.

They say cricket is a fickle game. And I would agree. Gautam Gambhir – once seen as India’s captain in waiting, is now waiting for a comeback in the Indian team. Will he, won’t he? Well, we’ll have to wait by the time the next ‘results’ are announced.