South Africa v India, 2nd Test, Durban December 25, 2010

Hand injury puts Gambhir in doubt

Gautam Gambhir is not a sure starter for the crucial Boxing Day Test in Durban. He was hit around the knuckles of his left hand in the first Test, and it has swollen a bit. He had batted in the nets all three days of India's training leading into the Test. What is a concerning bit of news for India, though, is that the swelling seems to have grown on the match eve, and Gambhir spent a long time in the nets sitting on an ice box, with an icepack on his left hand.

If Gambhir doesn't make it, M Vijay will be his natural replacement. Looking at the contingency, India chose to give Vijay a long hit in the nets on the eve of the match. Vijay has done well in the past as a back-up opener, even when he has been called up on short notice. His last effort as replacement opener was 139 against Australia in Bangalore, which contributed to India's 2-0 series win. For somebody who always gets called up on short notice, Vijay has a healthy average of 42.41 in eight Tests. If he gets picked, though, this will be Vijay's biggest Test, on a green, rock-solid pitch, with overhead conditions likely to contribute to swing and seam movement.

India trail 1-0, and South Africa are looking to close out this series before they enter the next year.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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