After a week of dilly-dallying and postponing a visit to the eye doctor, Gautam Gambhir has finally been ruled out of the rest of the tour of England. He was diagnosed with mild concussion earlier, something that was reaffirmed by the doctor and with recovery expected to take a couple of weeks, Gambhir will be flying back home.
This means that the Indian side, which has already been bereft of some of their World Cup-winning stars like Virender sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, will miss Gambhir at the top of the innings. A statement from the Indian manager, Shivlal Yadav, said, “He went to an eye specialist today and it seems he continues to suffer from concussion.”
This will leave India with only two frontline opening batsmen in Sachin Tendulkar and Ajinkya Rahane, incidentally both from Mumbai, with Parthiv Patel as a decent backup opener.
It will be interesting to see who comes into the side in place of Gambhir. If the Indians were to go for a like-for-like replacement, Tamil Nadu opener Murali Vijay could be a decent bet. However, Vijay’s problem is his foot-in-the-cement problem against the moving ball. While the ball may not swing as much in the ODIs as it did in the Tests, it may not be as easy to bat in the first one hour or so in England.
Vijay’s Tamil Nadu mate and one of India’s Test opener on tour, Abhinav Mukund could be another option but he hasn’t played in an ODI before. Plus, it wasn’t as if he was too successful in the Test matches either.
Yusuf Pathan had played in the World Cup but was dropped from the side owing to poor form. His all-round skills are usually handy for the team but whether the Indians need an extra spinner down the order is of much conjecture.
The selectors may not be prone to pulling another rabbit out of the hat, by getting in the out of favour, Irfan Pathan. If in form, the younger Pathan brother could be the best option India would have at the number seven – with his ability to hit the ball decently and bowl some seam-up. However, he has last played in May, in the IPL and could well be out of match practice.
Others like Saurabh Tiwary, Manish Pandey and S Badrinath could also stand an outside chance of getting through to the squad.