Viru, Gauti push their luck, and then run dry | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Viru, Gauti push their luck, and then run dry

cricket Updated: Nov 08, 2011 15:07 IST
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
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It was ironic that an unfortunate run out and an opportunistic stumping saw off the India openers at the Ferozshah Kotla on Monday and paved the way for a middle-order slump.

The Delhi pair of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sewhag rode their luck to put on 89 in just 12.3 overs, at a run rate of 7.12, on the second day of the first Test against the West Indies. However, their luck ran out at crucial junctures of the Indian innings.

A straight drive by Sehwag brushed the fingers of Darren Sammy diving on his follow through and crashed into the stumps at the non-striker's end with Gambhir out of crease.

Sehwag completed his fifty off the very next ball by edging Sammy past wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh but could not carry on for long. An alert Baugh stumped him down the leg-side as Sehwag lifted his back foot for a moment while pirouetting in his attempt to paddle against leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo to fine-leg.

It meant the middle-order was exposed on a pitch where it was difficult to survive until the batsmen got their eye in. The collapse that followed underlined why it was important for one of the openers to have batted on.

“Sometimes it happens that when you lose one wicket you lose another," Sehwag said after the day's play. "It meant the new batsmen had no one to tell them how the pitch was behaving." He termed his and Gambhir's dismissals "soft".

Rusty at the top
Gambhir and Sehwag were joining hands at the top of the order for the first time after the disastrous Test series in England where injuries plagued them both. During the 0-4 thrashing, they opened together only once, in the third Test, sharing partnerships of eight and three.

Since then Gambhir has played in T20s and 50-over formats, while Sehwag had time for only three T20 games for Delhi after completing his recovery from a shoulder surgery.

Here they were faced with a Test attack comprising the raw pace of Fidel Edwards and the guile of Ravi Rampaul. Gambhir and Sehwag looked assured when the bowling was at their pads and ran together well, but at other times they struggled.

Gambhir flirted with deliveries outside his off-stump and edged a few through the slips, though only one could be technically called a chance. Sehwag was beaten for pace by Edwards but was saved by a no ball.

India want the right-hand-left-hand combination to fire again as they look to climb back up the ICC’s Test Championship table. With the reserve openers still learning at international level, these two are crucial to India's chances in the longest format.

Monday showed glimpses of what the duo can do and also the challenges they have to overcome.