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Visitors sweat on Gambhir’s fitness

Despite the Indian team the most of the opportunity to use the wicket next to the centre wicket at the Sinhalese Sports Club on Sunday, a day ahead of the second Test, Gautam Gambhir preferred to knock a few balls in the nets outside the ground. HT Correspondent reports.

cricket Updated: Jul 26, 2010 00:15 IST
HT Correspondent

Despite the Indian team the most of the opportunity to use the wicket next to the centre wicket at the Sinhalese Sports Club on Sunday, a day ahead of the second Test, Gautam Gambhir preferred to knock a few balls in the nets outside the ground.

Murali Vijay, the reserve opener in the squad, however, batted in the middle of the ground for almost two hours. Even coach Gary Kirsten spent a good amount of time with the Chennai batsman during his long stint in the middle.

That was the first indication that Vijay could replace Gambhir on Monday if the southpaw's right knee keeps on troubling him.

“As far as injuries is concerned, Gautam is having a niggle with his left or right knee, I am not hundred percent sure which one,” said skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. “We will take a call maybe in the evening or before the game.”

Though Gambhir did not appear to be in obvious pain while having a go in the nets, the Indian team management will not field him if he is not 100 percent fit, given the importance of the game. If India lose the game, they will not just have lost the series but will also be well on the way to losing their No. 1 ranking, as that would mean they had to win the final Test to cling on. Having been dismissed by Lasith Malinga in the first over of both innings in Galle, Gambhir had to be at his best going into such a crucial game. By Sunday evening, however, it was learnt that Gambhir's problem was with his right knee and that the final call on his availability will be taken only just before the toss. This meant that Vijay, who featured in the last of his five Tests against SA in February, could have a sleepless night on Sunday.