For snubbed Gambhir, it's a make or break situation
Virat Kohli's promotion as India vice-captain for the Asia Cup is a move aimed at the future. However, his elevation could also result in demoralising a few seniors in the team.
Atop the list is likely to be Virat's senior Delhi teammate Gautam Gambhir. After all, besides being the man in form with the bat, Gambhir had given a glimpse of his leadership skills in the limited opportunities he got as captain.
Before being overshadowed by Virat during India's phenomenal run chase against Sri Lanka in Hobart on Tuesday, Gambhir was India's man in the CB Series. Had it not been for the left-hander's back-to-back nineties in the first half of the tournament, India wouldn't have topped the table at the halfway stage.
Jibe at the skipper went against him
But in the midst regaining his touch with the bat, Gambhir took a jibe at skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni for delaying the victory against Australia in Adelaide.This resulted in a war of words between the captain, Gambhir and Virender Sehwag.
Besides being tagged a "slow but safe fielder", during the verbal volleys, Gambhir was also referred to as "one of the three oldies" in the team - besides Sachin Tendulkar and Sehwag. Three months younger to the skipper, the likelihood of Gambhir being available for the 2015 World Cup, despite his niggles, is higher than that of the other two.
Yet, Gambhir was invariably included in the old men's club, intentionally or otherwise.
If that wasn't enough, on Wednesday, the national selectors overlooked Gambhir and appointed Virat as Dhoni's deputy. As recently as 16 months ago, the same selection panel had appointed Gambhir as the stand-in captain when Dhoni opted out of the ODI series against New Zealand in November 2010.
Good record as skipper
The 30-year-old not only marshalled his troops well, he also led from the front, scoring two match-winning centuries during India's 5-0 whitewash of the Kiwis.
New Zealand may not be considered a top side, but three months later, the same outfit had made it to the World Cup semifinals.
Expectedly, Gambhir was the man in waiting in case Dhoni passed on the baton. However, the selectors sprang a surprise by ignoring Gambhir and appointing Virat as vice-captain.
The timing of the announcement is crucial. If Gambhir lets this affect him and fails to fire with the bat over the next three weeks, it could have serious repercussions on India's campaign in the CB Series (if they make it to the finals) and Asia Cup.
These three weeks will test his mettle as a professional cricketer. Will he get disheartened? Or will he make a strong statement by living up to his reputation of coming good in big matches?
Time will tell.