Gambhir's absence a big blow, Vijay to open: Dhoni

Updated: 05 November 2008 06:44 IST

Twenty-four-year-old Tamil Nadu opener M Vijay, who made 243 against Maharashtra in a Ranji Trophy that is match still in progress, will play in Nagpur.


The Indian team is all set to cap Tamil Nadu youngster M Vijay after he was rushed in as a late replacement for in-form opener Gautam Gambhir who has been banned by the ICC from playing the series-deciding fourth and final Test against Australia starting on Wednesday.

"I came to know that Gambhir won't play for sure this morning. We are going in with M Vijay right now and open with him tomorrow," said captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni who had taken over the reins of the Test team following the retirement of Anil Kumble after the drawn third Test in New Delhi.

Dhoni said that the absence of Gambhir, India's leading run-getter in the series with a double hundred and a hundred, will be definitely felt by the side but it has to get on with the situation at hand.

"It's a blow as he (Gambhir) is a man in form and a good start really matters. We can capitalize and get to a big score. It's unfortunate (ban on Gambhir) but M Vijay is there.

It does not matter whether he makes his debut in this match or ten matches later as the pressure of playing international cricket will be the same," he said.

Asked about the choice of the 24-year-old Tamil Nadu youngster, who came here midway from a Ranji Trophy tie against Maharashtra at Nashik after scoring a double hundred, Dhoni insisted he cannot comment on selection matters.

"I cannot comment on selection matters. I have seen him playing in Challenger Series. He's done well in domestic cricket (more than 600 runs each in first two seasons). For now he will open but there can be change of plans," he said.

Struggling Rahul Dravid missed the training session on Wednesday because of 'flu' but Dhoni said the former captain would be fit to play on Thursday.

Dhoni said there was no extra pressure on the team ahead of the series-deciding tie with India leading 1-0.

"We have done well throughout the series and it's important we stick to the basics and do the same things as we have done so far. This match is important but there's no added pressure. We need to play to our potential," the wicket-keeper batsman said.

He said that reverse swing obtained by his medium pace duo of Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma during the earlier part of the series, has been a crucial factor in his side doing well in the series thus far.

"Reverse swing is crucial when the new ball does not do much for the fast bowlers to come back and make an impact in the game. It has been important right through the series. We have maintained the ball well and have done it (reversing) consistently. In Delhi it did not happen much because there was some grass on the wicket and in the outfield," he said.

On the pitch at the newly built Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium at Jamtha, the home team captain said he expected it to be a typical Indian wicket.

"It's a normal Indian wicket with no grass on it. There won't be much help for the fast bowlers but there's a good chance the ball will reverse. Hopefully it will also break up," he said.

Dhoni said that different bowling combinations in the spin department that the Indian team had been forced to employ in the series due to the injury to Kumble did make some difference.

"Some difference will be there. But we have planned well for this match also," he said.

Topics : Cricket Sreesanth
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