New Delhi: Gautam Gambhir made it to the India squad for first two Tests against England after making all the right noises and was deservedly included by BCCI.
The left-handed opening bat kept his place in the squad after his heartening display with the bat at the third and final Test against New Zealand. Both Lokesh Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan -- other openers in contention -- were ruled out because of injuries, but Gambhir was seen as a man worthy of giving another chance despite the situation.
The 35-year-old, after his brief stint with the national team during the New Zealand series starred in Delhi's Ranji Trophy campaign, and hit a fluent 147 against Odisha at Mohali. He had two disappointing innings against Karnataka, a double 2's, but thanks to that 147 against Odisha, he managed to keep everyone interested.
In contrast, Rahul -- who had suffered a hamstring injury the first Test against the Kiwis -- didn't show up for Karnataka and has since been a subject of fitness speculation. And his replacement, Dhawan also didn't play for Delhi after the Kiwi series. Both of the openers failed to get all-clear on their fitness.
If Rahul was fit, he might have been the automatic choice given the brilliance the Karnataka batsman has shown in the limited opportunities he got in the West Indies series, with Gambhir or Dhawan being the most likely back-up.
Dhawan also did well in West Indies, giving the start that Virat Kohli & Co needed at North Sound with a sturdy 84. But as stated above, his has been case of wait and see. And in the Kiwi series, he was given to opportunity to prove his utility to the team.
When the MSK Prasad-led selection committee met to select the Indian team for the England series, the focus was on the second opener, who will company Murali Vijay.
Having said that, Gambhir becomes an altogether different beast when it comes to technique and playing against spin, in home conditions. Gambhir's ease against the turning ball, and also the sheer will to make a India comeback, read preserving the spot, might just give the Delhi skipper an added advantage when it comes to selection.
India produced a clinical display against the Kiwis and blanked the visitors 3-0 in the three-match series. In contrast, the Poms suffered the humiliation of drawing lowly Bangladesh 1-1 in their two-match series.
Here's the full squad for England Tests: Kohli, Vijay, Gambhir, Pujara, Rahane, Saha, Ashwin, Jadeja, Mishra, Shami, Umesh, Ishant, K Nair, Pandya, J Yadav
The five-match Test series against England will start on November 9, at Rajkot.