India deservedly won the Champions Trophy in England, and did so in the absence of five key and highly experienced players who have been critical to India’s ODI success over the last decade. The big five was also of India’s famous World Cup victory back in 2011. India’s latest triumph thus raises the question whether it is the end of the road for the big five, namely Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh. We look back at their ODI record since the World Cup to get a better picture of the scenario.
Gautam Gambhir: Age 31. The left-hander has played 33 matches since the World Cup and has scored 1165 runs, averaging 36.4 with two hundreds. These figures aren’t bad, but the fact is that almost half of these runs have come against one side. Gambhir has scored 541 runs in nine games against Lanka including the two tons at an average of 60. His next best average is 37 against England. Against Australia, he has averaged only 31. In four games versus Pakistan he made only 34 runs and in five matches against West Indies 114.
Virender Sehwag: Age 34. In 15 matches since the World Cup, Sehwag has managed 513 runs in 15 matches at an average of 34. The big issue here is that 219 of those runs came in one match against West Indies, which basically means he has done nothing of note in the remaining games. In two matches against Australia he made 25 runs, in two against Pakistan he made 36 and even in seven games against Sri Lanka he managed only 188 runs. His average of 66 against West Indies during this period is for obvious reasons.
Yuvraj Singh: Age 31. Of all the players, the axe on Yuvraj Singh seems the toughest, for sentimental reasons as well. The left-hander was the biggest reason behind India’s World Cup win, but had to battle cancer post that. He was brought back into the team earlier than he should ideally have been, and not surprising looked out of sorts. But Yuvraj wasn’t really given a chance to feel his way back into the squad. He only played eight matches since comeback and scored 160 runs averaging 20 before being dumped. The abundance of talent in the Indian middle-order played a role in his premature axing.
Zaheer Khan: Age 34. Fitness has been a big concern for Khan over the last couple of years, and it has impacted his performances as well. Khan has been part of only nine ODIs since the World Cup, the last of which he played nearly a year back. During his period he has managed only nine wickets averaging nearly 48 enough for the selectors to keep him out of the side.
Harbhajan Singh: Age 32. The off-spinner did not have an outstanding World Cup. He has played only three ODIs since the World Cup, picking up four wickets averaging 27. But the lack of penetration in his bowling led to his axing.
--By A Cricket Analyst