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Patel, Gambhir likely to get look-in for Test

Munaf might be picked ahead of VRV Singh, while Jaffer could make way for Gambhir.

india Updated: Dec 23, 2006 19:41 IST

Chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar did not let one sneak past his defence on selection matters for the second cricket Test but there are signs that Munaf Patel and Gautam Gambhir could be roped in for the tie beginning in Durban on December 26.

"I can't comment on selection for the second Test now but this is an important game and we will take note of performances in this (practice) match," said Vengsarkar, playing his cards close to his chest.

Vengsarkar was speaking after India ploughed through the second day of the practice game against a local side and counted their gains in the form of Gautam Gambhir's attractive 79 on the first day and then medium-fast bowler Munaf Patel's strike off his very first ball in the middle in a month.

"The thing is, it is a good game of cricket, we haven't played for eight days and the boys need to be in match groove. I am very happy about this game," said Vengsarkar who was instrumental in arranging the unscheduled game in the visitors' itinerary for the tour.

Vengsarkar offered a word of defence for Wasim Jaffer, the Mumbai opener who has only 30 runs from eight innings on the tour so far and who most likely would make way for Gambhir.

"He has failed in one Test but we will have to sit and work it out," said Vengsarkar, giving nothing away.

"He bowled reasonably well; he didn't go all out and he will settle down. He seems to be getting fitter, it was a good opportunity for him and his name will be up for selection," Vengsarkar said.

It appears likely that Munaf would be preferred ahead of VRV Singh who had a reasonably decent outing in the first Test against South Africa which the visitors won by 123 runs.

There is speculation of a reshuffle in the batting order for South Africa and AB de Villiers could be opening the innings at Kingsmead.

As for India, Vengsarkar said the role of openers was absolutely the key to winning a Test match.

"You need openers (to fire) to win a Test. You probably are looking to score 300 runs in the first innings and openers would be important (in that quest)," he said.

First Published: Dec 23, 2006 19:41 IST