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Sight Screen

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Chopra Vs Gambhir

A post yesterday about Akash Chopra -- titled 'What do they know...' -- appears to have provoked a debate about the relative merits of Chopra vis a vis his successor, Gautam Gambhir. Okay, full disclaimer -- I believe, and this obviously is my personal opinion, that Chopra will make a better opener, long term, than Gambhir; I believe, too, that the shift back to Chopra will likely come after GG goes on his first real overseas tour (and I don't mean the walk in the park planned against Zimbabwe later this year).
Not that I think Gambhir is a dud -- far from it. Just that from watching the two of them, I believe -- again, my personal take -- that Chopra has the better technique to endure the examination an Indian opener will be subjected to. His game is tighter, while Gambhir tends to play just that touch away from his body that could be fatal against quality pace bowlers.
What is surprising about the debate, though, is how quickly Chopra's qualities seem to have been forgotten. Gambhir had easily the softer introduction to Test cricket of the two -- he faced a sub-par South Africa at home (where he figured in a 218-run partnership); then Bangladesh (a 259 run stand for the second wicket); then Pakistan at home (a 113 run first wicket stand, a personal high of 98).
Against this, Chopra had probably the hardest assignment in international cricket today -- facing the Aussie seamers on their own home turf. Didn't do two badly, did he? I seem to recall two century stands he was associated with; I seem to recall, too, that it was the first (and second) instance in god knows how many years that visiting openers had actually scored 100-plus before the first wicket went down.
Leaving aside the debate about whether he batted slow because he was asked to, or because that is his natural inclination -- do you really suppose that his two failures in Pakistan, and two against Australia at home when everyone failed, are enough to erase him from the collective memory?


  • First some facts : At home, Chopra has scores of 42, 31, 60, 52 in two tests against NZ (relatively easy opponents), then 0, 5, 9, 1 against Aus in two matches.

    He didnt show much promise in domestic circuit around this time either, frankly he was against Aus because he was the incumbent. And apparently the team management thought that he had not done enough in the past to be no judged on his lack of runs in domestic matches (and then against Aus as well)

    My take is that Chopra has not shown enough hunger for runs. As I said earlier, the team management message to him could not have been not to make runs. In fact I do remember Ganguly saying that he needs to make runs, convert the good starts. Because for an opener to waste good starts is almost unforgivable. Most good teams dominate (atleast today) because of openers making big scores. And not one but both. And India has been looking for the same combination. Not just someone to hold one end up. Surely that would do, if nothing better is available. But the search shouldnt stop there.
    Thats why I dont think Chopra is good, and thats why I think Yuvraj was tried. Because he is a big run maker. He is a match winner, if he had clicked (and I also think he hasnt been tried enough, GC may give him better chance than the half-baked chance and panick-ridden retrieval we saw against the Aus). He should have got the Gambhir kind of chance.

    Anyway, back to Chopra. Prem, do you sill believe technique is all it takes today to succeed as test opener ? Maybe Gambhir is not the answer, and I said this earlier. But atleast he is making runs, besides surviving. His test would come in Eng next year I guess, or maybe to some extent in Zimbabwe.

    It is not an emotional matter, I haven't forgotten Chopra's contribution in Indian success, and not even Bangar's(Headingly!). But if India had to develope further, then he had to go. My take.

    By Blogger worma, at 15:40  

  • Add scores of 42, 4, 5 against Pak (modest attack) in 2 tests to the first line.

    By Blogger worma, at 15:41  

  • Hi,

    It is very interesting that you would include only one of the two. Gambhir being the preeminent batsman for India A for past five plus years with what fifteen odd tons in "international" arena to boast of. I agree Chopra may have better technique and will get back in national side. But why dump Gambhir while at it? The big three are in last legs except dravid, laxman may still prolong his exit.
    Chopra will have to fend of Kaif, Yuvaraj and maybe young Raina, Rayudus which he has demonstrated he can in national circles. so both can make it to national XI.

    Or the presence of three delhiwallahs at top of batting order are not acceptable to zonal quota-ites.

    Pranshu B Saxena

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 18:32  

  • I am of the same opinion. I think that Chopra would be a better opener in the long run because he has better technique. Also, he has a good understanding with Sehwag (their running was awesome in Australia) and complement each other well.
    Gambir is too flashy for me and like Boycott would say, "his feet are stuck in chewing gum". Any foreign tour specially under English/NZ conditions would expose his technique.
    May be Tendulkar should be made to open for India in tests. His technique is good enough and so why not, may be too ambitious.

    My batting order for India:
    1. Sachin
    2. Sehwag
    3. Dravid
    4. Laxman
    5. Ganguly
    6. Kaif
    7. Dhoni/Karthik
    8-11 Bowlers

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 04:42  

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