After spending a few minutes inspecting the pitch to be used for Delhis sixth round Ranji game against Vidarbha,refreshing himself with the idea of how to bat on the surface,Gambhir walked back,wore his helmet and finally picked up his best bat. Gambhirs batting at the nets was reminiscent of his prime years.
He shouldered arms to every ball that pitched outside his off stump and played close to his body. Against spinners he jumped out occasionally and placed the ball over cover.
Gambhir batted as if he was aware that a match-winning knock at Roshanara would not only help Delhis cause this season,but will also put him back in national reckoning. Gambhir had missed the cut for the tour of South Africa but in four matches for Delhi,has scored 409 runs at 58.42.
His 153 against Haryana at the same venue was vital in securing Delhis first outright win of the season.
Gamhir will be keen for news from South Africa,where opener Shikhar Dhawan is on his first tour,and hadnt impressed in the ODIs. Rohit Sharma,the other Indian ODI opener,is a middle order fit and hence is not an immediate threat. The other opener Murali Vijay had a poor tour the last time he visited South Africa.
As the Test series gets underway,Gambhir will want to become the number one replacement choice if the selectors arent convinced by either of the three players,when they decide the squad for the New Zealand assignment. So far,he has kept his end of the bargain.
He has two half centuries against Mumbai,a century against Haryana in a win,and a ton against the touring West Indies A at Hubli. And this is the right time for the lefthander to make some big runs to remind the selectors.
Runs scored in adverse conditions cannot go unnoticed for long. Also,Gambhirs statistics in New Zealand speak a great deal for him.
In the 2009 tour of New Zealand,Gambhir scored consecutive centuries in the second and third Tests,at Napier (137) and Wellington (167).
The timing will be perfect,if Gambhir can show his credentials right when his competitors are struggling.
Unlike his team mate Virender Sehwag,Gambhir is perhaps only a big knock or two from recall to the national team.