Nagpur, Feb 5 : Plagued by injuries, India would be hoping for the return of experienced V. V. S. Laxman to strengthen its middle order batting, but his fitness ahead of the first cricket Test against South Africa continues to be in doubt.
India are already without Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh, who got injured during the recently concluded Bangladesh tour. While Dravid fractured his jaw, Yuvraj injured his wrist.
In such a case, Laxman's presence in the middle order becomes all the more important. The 35-year-old suffered a finger injury and had to sit out in the second Test in Dhaka.
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni Friday said a decision on Laxman's availability for Saturday's Test is yet to be taken.
"There is uncertainty over Laxman at the moment," Dhoni said on the eve of the match Friday.
"He will speak to the physio on how he feels and then we will take a decision on him."
Rohit Sharma has already been flown in as as a cover of Laxman. In the absence of seniors, Subramaniam Badrinath, and Murli Vijay will also be hoping for their chances.
"We will miss our experienced players, but at the end of the day somebody needs to step up and do the work for the team," he said.
"Their absence provides an opportunity for the youngsters to step in and score runs."
"International cricket is a challenge. Pressure will be there but we have openers who have done well in the past. There is no reason why they cannot do that again. We're a team that relies on a good start. After that, we go on to dominate," Dhoni said.
South African skipper Graeme Smith said the injuries to the key players will affect India.
"Guys like Laxman and Dravid come with a lot of experience. It does put more pressure on their openers (Gautam) Gambhir and (Virender) Sehwag," Smith said.(IANS)
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