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Gambhir exited to play on home ground

"I have been batting well. I just need to stay at the crease and I am sure a big knock will come my way," said Gambhir.

india Updated: Dec 09, 2005 18:57 IST

It would be his first game on his home ground and Gautam Gambhir is faced with the unenviable task of having to open the innings without his regular partner in the second cricket Test against Sri Lanka starting here on Saturday.

Virender Sehwag's absence from the Test owing to a viral throat infection has upset the plans and left the team management groping for a suitable replacement for the all-important task of facing the new cherry on a grassy track at the Ferozeshah Kotla.

Sehwag's indisposition has raked up the old problem of the opening slot which had been witness to a game of musical chairs until Gambhir was brought into the picture.

Gambhir has fitted in the role perfectly, providing the team with the ideal right-left combination at the start and wasting little time in conjuring runs, which in turn helps in setting up the tempo of the innings.

The Delhi cricketer admitted Sehwag's absence would be a big blow to the side but said he had no option now but to focus on his own game and try and gel with whoever opens the innings along with him.

"Sehwag has been a great help to me. As far as tomorrow is concerned, whoever comes out to bat with me, I will try and do well," Gambhirsaid.

Gambhir has earned kudos from the team management after some quality knocks but the player credits the coach and captain for instilling confidence in him by giving him the chance to play.

Recalling that knock, Gambhir said it had all to do with mental planning.

"It is more of a mental thing. I wanted to make the best out of the opportunity and that's it."

Gambhir said he had gained in confidence from the time he played in his first Test against Australia in 2004.

"I have become more confident now. As you play more and more at the international level, you gain that much in confidence," said the player who is 11-Test-old in international cricket.

It is little secret that the present team thinktank of captain Rahul Dravid and coach Greg Chappell think more highly of the Delhi cricketer and are keen to groom him as both a Test and one-day player, evident from his selection to the ODI squad recently after being kept on the sidelines since making his debut in 2003.

Gambhir, on his part, is keen to pay back and live up to the faith his captain has shown in him by coming up with a good knock in this Test.

"I am very, very excited at the prospect of playing before the home crowd here in Kotla. I have been batting well. I just need to stay at the crease and I am sure a big knock will come my way," said the batsman who has 630 runs at an average of slightly over 42 from 11 Tests.

First Published: Dec 09, 2005 18:57 IST