India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni conceded that the team will miss Gautam Gambhir while revealing that Dinesh Karthik will open the innings in the ongoing Compaq Cup cricket tri-series in Colombo.
Gambhir will return home without playing a single match because of a groin injury, which would mean India will be without both their regular openers, as Virender Sehwag is also out of action following shoulder surgery.
In such a scenario, Dhoni said Karthik will open the innings along with Sachin Tendulkar Dinesh Karthik will open tomorrow because he is doing well in the net sessions… also because we do not have a replacement right now,” said Dhoni, on the eve of India’s tournament opener against New Zealand on Friday.
“Dinesh has done that job in the West Indies and has done well for us in Test series also. Definitely, he will open tomorrow,” he said.
“The best opener Sachin Tendulkar is also there,” he added.
Dhoni said Gambhir picked the injury during the BCCI Corporate Trophy and nothing can be done about it.
“I think it was during the corporate tournament (that he picked the injury), if I am not wrong. But, I think, in the batting session it got aggravated.
“So that is a big blow of course, as he has really done well for us in the past one-and-half years,” he added.
“You can take precautions against injury. You can train yourself not to get injured, but once you get an injury you cannot do much about it. So we are expecting he gets fit before the Champions Trophy and that we have a replacement,” Dhoni said.
“Of course we will miss Gautam Gambhir but nothing can be done about it. It is for the player who replaces him and takes up the responsibility,” Dhoni added.
While Gambhir’s absence would mean extra responsibility for Tendulkar, pressure would be on comeback man Rahul Dravid as well, and Dhoni said the former India captain would bat at number three in normal circumstances.
“Rahul is an ideal batsman for number three, particularly in these conditions and if we bat in the evening it would be a very demanding situation,” Dhoni said.
“Dravid is one batsman who has proved that you need him when the ball moves or seams. More often than not he will be batting at number three,” he said.
“If the overs are cut short because of rains and if we need to accelerate, then we reshuffle the order. We have done this in the past by not resorting to one fixed batting order but under normal circumstances Rahul will bat at number three,” Dhoni said.
Interestingly, Dhoni made it clear that though the selectors are rushing in Virat Kohli as Gambhir’s replacement, he would persist with Karthik as opener.
“We will see how Dinesh does in the series. I think it is unfair to give an individual just one game to prove himself,” Dhoni said.
“Personally I feel Virat Kohli is not an opening batsman. Last time when we came here, Sehwag got injured during a practice session and Virat had to open and he did very well for us. But it is unfair to push a newcomer for the role.
“I would prefer Dinesh to open and give an opportunity to Virat Kohli where he fits and he has most chances of performing. This is a very short series,” he said.
India would become the number one ODI team if Dhoni’s men win the title but the stumper was not ready to let it become a distraction.
“Ranking and rating take care of themselves. We are just concentrating on the part which is under our control and that is playing and performing on the field and adapting to the situation.
“The conditions are different. We have got the potential and the talent and we just need to perform according to our potential and talent,” he said.
Dhoni said players are happy to be back to international cricket after a two-month break.
Asked whether the players would be fresh or rusty due to the break, Dhoni quipped, “Depends on the match result. The way you want to take it. If you lose the first game you are rusty and if you win the first game you are fresh.