Dravid Set To Make T20 Debut For Injury-Hit India
Manchester, August 30: 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 on Wednesday.
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 India batsman Gautam Gambhir suffered an injury after falling on his head trying to take a catch.
And with Gambhir still to recover fully, that means Dravid, the second highest run scorer in Test history behind India teammate Sachin Tendulkar and with 339 one-day internationals to his credit, is set to make a Twenty20 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 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.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni all but ruled Gambhir out of the Twenty20 clash, telling reporters at Old Trafford on Tuesday: "He's going to see a specialist which means he is most unlikely to play in tomorrow's (Wednesday's) game.
"It's the result of the same fall. It's because of that he's having a problem," Dhoni added.
"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 five one-dayers against England.
Dhoni was unwilling to speculate on how long Gambhir will be out but was glad to be able to turn to Dravid, who has not played a one-day international for India 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 domestic 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," he said.
"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.
"It's more to deal with the mental aspect than the physical aspect. A bit of good rest in between also helps keep the injuries away."