When the meeting of the national selection committee convened in Mumbai earlier this month to pick the squad for the three-Test home series against New Zealand, fans were expecting to see Gautam Gambhir back in the team. That eventually, did not happen.
Gambhir’s lasting memories in whites were those at the Oval in 2014 where he could manage just three runs in his two innings.
While several reasons have been cited behind Gambhir’s exclusion from the Test team since 2014 including lack of consistency, better options for opening, his aggressive nature and rifts with skipper Virat Kohli, one cannot deny the fact that the 25-year-old batsman made a strongback and proved himself in the recently concluded Duleep Trophy.
Leading the India Blue team, Gambhir scored 77, 90, 59, 94 and 36 in five consecutive innings, leading his team to title victory. With 356 runs at an average of 71.2, Gambhir proved he is up for any challenge and is a serious contender for Tests.
When not selected in the Test team for the New Zealand series, Gambhir took to Twitter to express his disappointment but also said he'll continue fighting.
The Delhi batsman tweeted, "I'm disappointed but not defeated; I'm cornered but not a coward. Grit my partner, courage my pride...for, I must fight, I must fight..."
The Delhi skipper may not have had a decent outing in the Ranji Trophy earlier this year, but he did emerg as the second highest scorer of the team, having amassed 488 runs at an average of 37.5.
Gambhir also showcased an excellent batting performance in the IPL 2016. Leading KKR, he amassed 501 runs in 15 matches guiding his team to the play-offs before losing to eventual champions Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The selectors instead, chose Cheteshwar Pujara, whose consecutive tons in Duleep Trophy, including an unbeaten 256, earned him a spot in the squad in the ongoing Test series against Kiwis.
Now, the 35-year-old opener may have a chance to mark his return to the Test team after KL Rahul suffered a right hamstring injury during India’s second innings in the first Test against the Kiwis.
It is reported that coach Anil Kumble has asked for in-form Gautam Gambhir to be called in as a backup opener for the next match in Kolkata, starting September 30.
While this might come as a lifeline for him, no one really knows whether Gambhir’s name will be considered by selectors for the upcoming Test series against England, starting November 9.
If it does, Gambhir knows fully well that he has a minor space for error. His performance with the bat will be the sole indicator of his position in the team as well as his career.