India will be at full strength for the third and deciding Test against South Africa, at Cape Town. However, there will be a couple of slightly wounded soldiers in the ranks. Opener Gautam Gambhir who had to pull out of the playing XI on the eve of the crucial second Test at Durban due to a hand injury he picked up in the nets, has reportedly recovered and is good to go.
The management however, has indicated that there is a little niggling pain in his left hand, but it's nothing overwhelmimg and he should be able to bat without too much discomfort. Meanwhile his opening partner Virender Sehwag, who has been ruled out of the upcoming one-day series against South Africa due to a shoulder injury, will be pulling himself together for this final encounter at Cape Town.
Gambhir of course, was replaced by Murali Vijay in the second Test. But the Tamil Nadu batsman did precious little in the opener's slot, making a meagre 19 and 9. It will be interesting to see whether he or No.6 batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who himself replaced a struggling Suresh Raina, will be dropped for Cape Town.
The return of the regular openers is good news for India as Sehwag and Gambhir are touted as the most destructive opening pair in contemporary cricket. In 57 innings (29 Tests), the two have effected opening stands at an average of 57.92 and an aggregate of over 3,000 runs. These figures translate to the third highest in the history of Test cricket.
Furthermore, the Gambhir-Sehwag combination has equalled the most number of opening century stands by an India pair, currently on par with Sunil Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan, at 10. Gambir and Sehwag equalled the feat earlier in this series itself and with the strip at Newlands, Cape Town supposedly conducive for batting, they might just notch up the most hundred partnerships by an Indian opening pair. Who knows?