Gautam Gambhir and co.: Too old for team India?

gautam Gambhit-Virender sehwag_0.jpg

Time is, almost inexplicably, man's biggest enemy and also his most reliable friend. While time's passage leaves man withered, wizened and maybe even weak, it also affords him a chance to seek redemption. The erstwhile stalwarts of Indian cricket in Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan are likely to concur with the above statement. The quartet who found themselves left in a lurch in the aftermath of the young brigade of India stole the thunder in not one but multiple tournaments have now been thrown a rope to find their way out of the pits.
While it is hard to fathom why the selectors chose to induct the four into the India 'A' team at a juncture when the onus has clearly been on building a side for the 2015 World Cup, the decision has been commended by the entire cricket fraternity in the country. While the youngsters have indeed been instrumental in helping India scale peaks that it had failed to earlier, to totally disregard the contributions of its former players would be, to use an old cliché, a travesty of justice.
The likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja to name but two of the youngsters have not merely made headlines. They have churned out sterling performances at such an alarming frequency that the players of yore have been pushed to the very cusp of oblivion. Dhawan, with his swashbuckling strokes and the swagger that seems to inherent in almost every other Delhiite, has clearly shown what India missed out on when he was warming the benches through some of his best years. If his debut hundred served to silence all those who had suspected his technique and acumen to handle himself at the highest level, his feats in the ICC Champions Trophy has simply left all his critics stumped.
The curious case of Ravindra Jadeja and Yuvraj Singh
On the other hand, Jadeja, who is purpourtedly a player with limited abilities, has managed to carve a niche for himself as India's foremost all-rounder. His evolution from being nothing more than a T20 bowler and a slam-bang batsman to being India's foremost all-rounder in all formats of the game has not only been achieved in quick time but it has also come at the most opportune of moments both for him and the team. But, if there is one cricketer who has been directly impacted by the almost meteoric rise of Jadeja, it is Yuvraj.
It seems like only yesterday that Yuvraj was receiving the "Player of the tournament" award in the 2011 World Cup. The vicissitudes and the tribulations that his life has been so fraught with since his moment of glory are it his victorious battle against cancer or the defeat in the war with the selectors, Yuvraj has certainly been through a lot. His re-induction into the Indian side, only weeks after the physicians cleared with a clean bill of health was one that was not only hasty but also one that was devoid of logic. When reason would have dictated that the selectors bid their time and provide Yuvraj ample time to recuperate, the selectors chose to usher him into the side prematurely for reasons that only they were aware of and it was the talented all-rounder who had to bear the brunt of their absurdity. While the swagger and the confidence that have always characterised Yuvraj were still very much an integral part of his persona, the heart-skipping excitement that used to be an inevitable concomitant of Yuvraj's presence on the field was missing.
Jadeja, in whom M S Dhoni seemed to repose almost boundless faith, with his supposedly limited set of skills achieved feats that belied both his experience and almost seemed to mock all the unwritten tenets of the game. In his brief stint with the Indian Test team, he has quelled the doubts of all his detractors and has shown that a fertile cricketing brain is equivalent to having a million variations in your arsenal. While his batting skills remain, by and large, unimpressive, he did show glimpses of his ability in the Champions trophy.
Yuvraj's induction into the India 'A' side is clearly the selectors' tacit way of telling him that he hasn't been forgotten. But, one can't help but wonder if the selectors will punt on an aging Yuvraj when the young and promising Jadeja is wreathing laurels by the dozens.
Mt. Impossible for Sehwag and Gambhir
While it might only be fair to assume that the selectors might do a rethink on Murali Vijay given his below par performance in India 'A's recent South Africa tour, to think that they might be willing to lend yet another lease of life to Sehwag and Gambhir borders on the absurd. The two of them were given more than their fair share of chances to redeem themselves but to no avail. Vijay, although might have shattered the illusion of invulnerability, is highly unlikely to be side-lined. He was, after all, the highest run-getter in the series against Australia and if the selectors decide to give him the axe on the basis of one poor series, they would be sending a whole host of bad signals to many aspiring cricketers.
Gambhir, whose stint with Essex was a mixed bag of sorts, could be called back to the squad but it is likely that the Captain might choose to go with him only in the eventuality of the other openers failing. Sehwag's case, however, is more tenuous. He turns 35 next month and his many recent performances are testimony to the fact that his reflexes are nowhere as good as they used to be in his heydays. Should the selectors choose to disregard the above aspects of his game and choose to stick with him, it would be a giant leap of faith. But, given the current scenario, the chances of Sehwag making a comeback look bleak.
Lack of pace and venom might side-line Zaheer
The old warhorse has not really run out of tricks and among the four of them Zaheer stands the best chance of making a comeback into the Indian team. The emergence of Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, two bowlers who are as different in essence as Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort, have clearly made things a tad too tough for Zaheer.
Today, Zaheer's bowling lacks the venom that made him one of the most dangerous bowlers to face. While he was never a lightning-quick bowler, his subtle variations in pace were what helped Zaheer topple batting line-ups. With Bhuvneshwar emerging as India's best swing bowler this year, the chances of selectors wanting to have him tested in foreign conditions are high. This might result in Zaheer not getting a look-in. The more prudent course of action on the part of the selectors would be to go with all the four Indian pacers and give each a chance to prove their mettle. Regardless of whether Zaheer gets to play a game or not, the younger bowlers are bound to learn a lot from his vast experiences. 

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