SHIMOGA (TIP): Gautam Gambhir has gone 40 innings without a Test century and finds himself out of reckoning. But that’s an easy assessment. Many a time a quality bat goes through a lean patch even while middling the ball. Once the world’s No 1 Test batsman, Gambhir has cast a web of doubt around him. This is ironical since self-assurance was once his strength, especially against spinners. Here, in the midst of a lively college crowd, one could sense jaded energy in the way Gambhir approached his fielding, and when he took first strike against a fired-up Fidel Edwards. While on naught, he was caught behind off a no-ball, courtesy another tentative poke. With ball number 18, he finally pinched a single but refused to attack a series of juicy half-volleys. When spin was introduced, one expected him to come into his own. The feet didn’t move as nimbly, his only boundary coming off a mistimed shot.
Minutes later, he played an innocuous hoick off left-arm spinner V Permaul and Edwards completed the catch at deep square leg. Gambhir’s 70-minute stint accounted for just 11 runs off 44 balls. Later in the day, Cheteshwar Pujara’s dismissal triggered a thunderous roar from the students. While that might sound unjust to the India ‘A’ skipper, the roars were to welcome Virender Sehwag to the crease. He started cautiously before attempting a reckless cut off the third delivery and then survived a leg before shout. But none of these blips silenced the students. The batsman responded with a square cut that fetched him his only boundary. As the crowd egged him on, he stepped down to Permaul, who dropped one short. Sehwag survived but went down the same road again. This time, the spinner slid a short one across to set up a perfect stumping.