Manchester: Aug 31, 2011
Veteran India batsman Rahul Dravid is set to play his first -- and last -- Twenty20 international in the one-off game against England at Old Trafford here on Wednesday after Gautam Gambhir became the latest player to leave an injury-hit tour.
The 38-year-old Dravid was one of India's few successes in their recent 4-0 Test series defeat by England, scoring three hundreds as the hosts replaced the injury-hit tourists at the top of the ICC's Test standings.
That series ended at The Oval just over a week ago in a match where Gambhir suffered an injury after falling on his head trying to take a catch.
And with the opening batsman ruled out on Tuesday of both the Twenty20 international and the subsequent five one-dayers against England, that means Dravid, the second highest run scorer in Test history behind India team-mate Sachin Tendulkar and with 339 one-day internationals to his credit, is set to make a T20 debut for his country.
If he plays, it will also be Dravid's last Twenty20 match for India as he has said he will retire from shorter formats of the international game after this tour to concentrate on prolonging his illustrious Test career.
Gambhir, an opener, batted down the order in both innings at The Oval and the 29-year-old left-hander was still suffering with blurred vision in the nets at Old Trafford on Monday.
An India statement issued several hours after their news conference and practice session Tuesday said: "Gautam Gambhir is flying home to India as soon as possible after he was diagnosed with concussion on Wednesday.
"He went to see a specialist in Manchester who advised Gautam to have complete rest.
"It was therefore decided he would be sent home and will miss the limited overs series with England."
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had earlier Tuesday all but ruled Gambhir, who made 97 in the World Cup final win against Sri Lanka in Mumbai in March, out of the Twenty20 clash, telling reporters at Old Trafford: "Losing Gambhir will be a big loss for us but you can't control injuries.
"Hopefully someone will stand up and take the responsibility."
Dynamic opening batsman Virender Sehwag and all-rounder Yuvraj Singh have both already been ruled out of the Twenty20 fixture -- a format in which Tendulkar no longer plays -- and the subsequent one-dayers against England.
Dhoni was glad to be able to turn to Dravid, who has not played a one-day international for nearly two years,"It looks like Rahul will play," Dhoni said.
"You don't want to be a batter light, in this format you want your top seven batsmen. So Rahul will most likely get a chance."
Fast bowlers Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma have also been struck down with injury on tour and that has again reopened the debate about whether India's top players are playing too much cricket -- and in particular devoting too much time to the lucrative Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition.
But Dhoni, while in favour of resting players, said it was too simplistic to blame the IPL for the ills of the Indian game.
"Whenever anything bad happens in Indian cricket it is put down to the IPL, irrespective of the fact we play in April and we lose a series in August."
He added: "I think we'll have to (look at resting players) because the schedule looks quite cramped." (AFP)