He's one half of India's most aggressive Test opening pair. But approaching 31 and Indian batting going through a sea change, Gautam Gambhir hasn't lifted his game like he should have - in Test cricket. Same for Virender Sehwag - the other half, but more so in case of Gambhir who has both technique and defence to lend solidarity after Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman's exit. Sehwag doesn't even care about King pairs - uncluttered in every sense.
But Gambhir either hasn't realised what the team needs or his effort isn't good enough to result in runs. It must be the second case but how long can the team sustain that with Ajinkya Rahane cooling his heels?
Since his last Test hundred, which came against minnows Bangladesh in January 2010, Gambhir has played 39 innings scoring 1044 runs at an average of 28.22. Whereas the period preceding that accrued 2692 at an average of 57.28 in 50 innings. Yawning gap between those two stats. Surely Gambhir knows that, but the worrying part is that the effort to correct that is not discernible.
Gambhir's batting failures of late have been a mix of bad form, head concussion, a smack on the arm, two horror tours and at times pathetic shot selection.
The England tour began with a bruised forearm and ended with a head-bang. In the Tests sandwiched between those two injuries, he had a DNP against his name in the second and scores of 38 and 14 in the third. Overall, 102 runs in six innings. Not acceptable, but still given a passing look in the wake of those injuries.
It could've been redemption against a rebuilding Australia in Australia, but like England, the result was a washout - for Gambhir, his team-mates and for India. Gambhir - like everyone else on the tour - failed to leave an impression. Barring his 83 in the Sydney Test, the lefty's scores read 3, 13, 0, 31, 14, 34, 3.
The euphoria of World Cup win was turned into Test mourning with eight overseas defeats in a row. No one doubted that the seniors would stand up, take responsibility and bring India back on track once the long home season started with New Zealand visiting.
Dravid and Laxman put their feet up, which was on the cards any day. So it happened and didn't surprise anyone, barring a few Laxman fans who wanted a swansong in Hyderabad that VVS denied.
The onus fell on Gambhir and Sehwag on the top, Tendulkar and Kohli in the middle and Dhoni lower down the order. A change of guard was evident and required the senior statesmen to take charge against New Zealand.
While Kohli and Dhoni have looked like assuming that role in the batting line-up, Gambhir has failed so far in the series against New Zealand. Not that Sehwag and Tendulkar have done any better but the former will always be a hit and miss while the latter is at best stretching himself.
It's Gambhir's failure that is the most painful. And if he doesn't buckle down now, he will have to buckle himself up in the dressing room pretty soon.