Gautam Gambhir or Shikhar Dhawan: Who deserves a place in playing XI for 2nd Test vs Kiwis at Eden Gardens?
Between Gautam Gambhir and Shikhar Dhawan, whoever is picked for the second Test, will have to make the best of the opportunity since India have a long home season ahead.
New Delhi: While the organisers at the Eden Gardens are finding it difficult to woo spectators for India's second Test against New Zealand, the debate about who would be Murali Vijay's opening partner, is yet to reach its conclusion. (India vs New Zealand: Full coverage)
With Lokesh Rahul ruled out of the second Test due to a right hamstring injury, the fight for the opening slot is between Gautam Gambhir and Shikhar Dhawan. Both left-handers are from Delhi and they have been an integral part of the Indian team from time to time.
After ignoring him for India's initial 15-man squad for the three-match series against touring New Zealand team, selectors recalled Gambhir after two years in the Test set up.
While there are several youngsters who could have made it to the Test team, after the heaps of runs in scored in Duleep Trophy, the Delhi left-hander was the frontrunner for the spot. (REALITY CHECK! Why Virat Kohli will pick Shikhar Dhawan over Gautam Gambhir to partner Murali Vijay)
The question however is, whether he will be included in the playing XI at Eden Gardens, where he has scored plenty of runs in the Indian Premier League?
Gambhir's experience is vital, but since Dhawan was the selectors' first choice for the series, it would be harsh on Gabbar if he is dropped for the second Test.
Often accused for wasting opportunities, Dhawan undeniably has the backing of skipper Virat Kohli, who prefers batsmen who can quicken the pace of their innings when required.
Dhawan made a great start to the recently concluded Test series against West Indies, where he scored 84 runs in the first innings of the opening Test. But he threw away the momentum in the next couple of matches where he accumulated just 54 runs from three innings. (REALITY CHECK! Why Virat Kohli will pick Shikhar Dhawan over Gautam Gambhir to partner Murali Vijay)
Even in the Duleep Trophy final, playing for India Red, he scored 29 runs in each innings. In the same match, leading India Blue, Gambhir came up with scores of 94 and 36. Riding on the skipper's red hot form, India Blue won the summit clash comprehensively by 355 runs.
When asked about Gambhir's comeback, Indian coach Anil Kumble said it was a welcome move, but stressed on the fact that his inclusion in playing XI wasn't certain.
"I think it's really nice to have Gautam back. Gautam has done really well in domestic cricket. He is a part of the 15. I don't want to give away anything with regard to team combinations, but all 15 are available for selection. So it's nice to have him back," he said.
Whoever is picked for the second Test, will have to make the best of the opportunity since India have a long home season ahead.
The second Test is scheduled to be played in Kolkata from September 30.