Gambhir absence a blow for India

India were grappling with a new selection headache yesterday, with in-form opener Gautam Gambhir opting out of the third Test against Sri Lanka in Mumbai.

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India were grappling with a new selection headache yesterday, with in-form opener Gautam Gambhir opting out of the third Test against Sri Lanka in Mumbai. Gambhir has been given permission by the Indian cricket board to attend his sister's wedding on Thursday, which falls on the second day of the Test at the Brabourne stadium. India are seeking to win the three-Test series, which they lead 1-0 after their innings and 144 runs victory in the second match on Friday. The opening Test in Ahmedabad ended in a draw.

A 2-0 series win will put India on the top of the Test rankings and also deny Kumar Sangakkara's men their maiden victory on Indian soil in the longest version of the game. Gambhir, 28, has been enjoying a golden run with the bat, having hit four centuries in his last four Tests. It was his vital 233-run opening partnership with Virender Sehwag in the second Test which laid the platform for India's massive victory.

India's captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was measured in his response when asked about Gambhir's unavailability. "It's difficult to say how much the team will miss Gambhir," Dhoni said. "There are times when you have to adjust to situations. These are things we cannot do much about." The Indians have a reserve opener in their squad in Murali Vijay, who has played only one Test, against Australia in November last year.

But India could promote No 3 Rahul Dravid to the opener's slot and include an extra bowler in place of Gambhir. * AFP