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Series first, opportunities later for skipper Gambhir

cricket Updated: Nov 28, 2010 00:01 IST
Nilankur Das
Nilankur Das
Hindustan Times
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Going into Sunday's series-opener, India will have just 10 ODIs to get a settled look to the team ahead of the World Cup. The first five will be a lot more significant as they are at home. The next five in South Africa might not present a true chance to get the combination sorted. With the senior players set to return to the XI for the World Cup, not many slots are likely to come up for grabs, but the matches here could get a couple of places and the bench settled. No. 7 and a third medium-pacer's slot remain open. India have fielded as many as 31 different players in the XI in the last 12 months.

Even in this series, they have named the squad for the first two matches. So if the likes of Yusuf Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja are untested and left out after the first two matches, they might not get another chance.

Saurabh Tiwary has played in the only match of the three-match series against Asutralia in October and would definitely want a longer stint.

Stand-in skipper Gautam Gambhir accepted the significance of the series with respect to the World Cup but was not too keen in trying out players.

"It's a young side, so there is a lot of energy. It's the last five ODIs here before the World Cup, so it's a good opportunity for some of the guys," he said.

"The most important thing right now is to win the game, to win the series, rather than thinking about giving opportunity to all the players. We are just about to begin the series and it's too early to say that you need to give opportunity to all the players. It's an international series and you are playing for your country," he added.