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In Season 5,early symptoms of a happy headache for India

Three’s company: With openers Rahane,Sehwag and Gambhir in form,it augurs well for the team

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty | Kolkata | Published: May 3, 2012 1:34:41 am

For over a month-and-half every year,the IPL causes most Indian cricket fans to suspend their loyalties towards the national team as they identify with,and root for,different city-based outfits. But even for those ardent Team India supporters who are unaffected by the mania,Season 5 has given a reason to cheer.

This season’s top run-scorers’ list has a distinctly Indian feel so far,with Ajinkya Rahane (458,1st),Virender Sehwag (445,2nd) and Gautam Gambhir (365,4th) leading the way. In the larger scheme of things — with the World T20 in Sri Lanka four months away — it translates into hope for the fans and a happy headache of the Indian selectors and think-tank.

After an impressive debut against England in ODIs last year,Rahane was left out of the squad for the CB series,making way for Sachin Tendulkar. With a century and three half-centuries to his credit,Rahane seems all set to wear the India blues very soon. The debate could,however,be at which position will he play,for both Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir are back among the runs after a miserable summer in Australia.

Unprecedented feat

Sehwag has hit five half-centuries in row,an unprecedented feat in T20s,scoring those runs at 163.5,while Gambhir’s 365 runs have come at a strike rate of 143.70.

“If I were Gautam Gambhir,I would take this opportunity to answer my critics. Never ever I have seen a vice-captain is being removed from his post for the team’s poor performance,” Kolkata Knight Riders mentor and bowling coach Wasim Akram had said ahead of the team’s first match in the tournament. Akram was referring to Virat Kohli being named MS Dhoni’s deputy for the Asia Cup replacing Gambhir soon after the tri-series in Australia.

As if proving a point,the left-hander has led from the front,transforming the inconsistent Kolkata into a winning unit. Only one team has a better record this season than Kolkata,and it is led by Gambhir’s friend and fellow opener Sehwag. Delhi are a juggernaut this season,winning eight of their 10 matches thus far.

“We knew Viru would strike gold in this IPL. He didn’t do anything differently in practice,but he has made it a point to stay till the 15th over in every innings. And when he stays for 15 overs then the game is usually done and dusted. Even with a safe approach,he can score at a 150-plus strike rate,because he is special,” Daredevils team director T A Sekar told The Indian Express.

But how much should the trio’s IPL performance count when Team India gears up for international cricket? Said former chief selector Kiran More: “Their good show in the IPL indicates that they are in good form. And if Sehwag and Gambhir are in good form then it will augur well for Indian cricket.”

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