Rude shock for Gautam Gambhir

These are tough times for Gautam Gambhir. The Delhi opener, who has been in good form in the Ranji Trophy this year, has been left out ofthe 17-member Indian Test squad that was selected on Monday for the South Africa tour.

In the six Ranji Trophy matches that he has played this season, Gambhir had an aggregate of 372 runs. But the selection committee, which met in Vadodara, decided to stick to only two specialist openers for the difficult tour.

Shikhar Dhawan might be in prime form, but Murali Vijay isn’t proven material in Test cricket away from the country. The selection committee has chosen back-ups for every department, which meant that the team swelled up to 17, but for the crucial opener’s slot.

Baroda’s Ambatti Rayudu, who can also keep, could have been considered as the second keeper, but Wriddhiman Saha, too was given the nod. Ravindra Jadeja was also drafted in as an allround option, though it’s common knowledge that his left-arm spin might not be a potent weapon away from India in Tests. Zaheer Khan’s inclusion was a good one but the decision to keep Gambhir out of the fray does raise a few eyebrows.

However, the senior player will now get the entire Ranji season and if he is able to pile on the runs, the opportunity might come in New Zealand.