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Injured Gambhir gives team jitters

Gambhir is nursing a swollen left hand after he took a knock while batting in the nets, adding to India's worries as they look for ways to bounce back after suffering an innings defeat in the first Test in Centurion last week. Subhash Rajta reports.

cricket Updated: Dec 25, 2010 23:54 IST
Subhash Rajta

Opener Gautam Gambhir is a doubtful starter, dealing India a blow ahead of the second Test starting at Kingsmead on Sunday.

Gambhir is nursing a swollen left hand after he took a knock while batting in the nets, adding to India's worries as they look for ways to bounce back after suffering an innings defeat in the first Test in Centurion last week.

Murali Vijay, who has impressed as a stand-in for Gambhir in his eight Tests, will come in if the left-hander is ruled out. Vijay had stroked a match-winning 139 against Australia in Bangalore when he last played, also in place of an injured Gambhir.

The team management could also drop the struggling Suresh Raina and slot the technically compact Cheteshwar Pujara in the middle-order. Pujara made a fluent 72 under pressure in his Test debut as India successfully chased a tricky victory target against the Aussies in Bangalore.

India will breathe easy in bowling, however, with pace spearhead Zaheer Khan having recovered from a hamstring injury. In Zaheer's absence, Ishant Sharma and S. Sreesanth were pedestrian in Centurion and they are expected to benefit from the senior bowler's presence. A defeat will mean MS Dhoni's first series loss since taking charge.