Gautam Gambhir India
Gautam Gambhir will target a bit score when he opens the batting for India in the first Test against EnglandReuters

Gautam Gambhir will get another opportunity to make his mark in India whites owing to injuries, while Virat Kohli has a decision to make on the replacement for Rohit Sharma for the first Test match against England in Rajkot.

Gambhir struck a half-century in the only Test he played against New Zealand, the final one of the series, and with KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan still recovering from a hamstring and thumb injury respectively, the veteran left-hander will open the batting for India alongside Murali Vijay.

India's No.3, No.4 and No.5 is set with Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane filling those slots, but the No.6 position is where a decision needs to be made by Kohli and coach Anil Kumble. Rohit Sharma has been ruled out of the entire series, which means someone else will get an opportunity.

The two players fighting for that No.6 spot are Karun Nair and Hardik Pandya. Nair is the like-for-like replacement for Rohit, the pure batsman who bulks up the batting order and gives Kohli a sense of security, even if he will be making his Test match debut, if he is selected.

Pandya is the not-sure-what-we're-going-to-get-but-he-could-be-a-match-winner option – the one who could prove to be a not-enough-bowling-nothing-much-with-the-bat man or someone who could contribute valuable runs and take crucial wickets.

If Pandya is the man that Kohli goes with, it will also open up the possibility of India playing the extra spinner – Amit Mishra is the likely one, although Jayant Yadav has a chance, because of the left-handers in England's lineup. It doesn't look like India will go to the five-bowler theory, so it will most likely be either two fast bowlers and two spinners or three spinners and one fast bowler with Pandya helping out with the new ball – the pitch had a fair amount of grass on it on Monday, but it is likely to be shaved off before match day. There are plenty of cracks on the surface as well, and it will be a bat-first pitch.

The risk with selecting Pandya is that he is not a proven first-class performer, with bat or ball. Nair has scored a lot of runs for Karnataka, so he will be the safer bet if India are worried about the depth and strength of their batting.

England also have a few decisions to make over their playing XI. Ben Duckett showed promise with the bat against Bangladesh, so he is likely to keep his place. Duckett will come down the order, though with Haseeb Hameed, the 19-year-old opener, making his debut and Gary Ballance losing his place in the XI.

Stuart Broad is likely to come back in to play his 100th Test match after being rested for the second game against Bangladesh, while Gareth Batty will also hope to be involved, most likely at the expense of Zafar Ansari.

Confirmed playing XI:

India: Gautam Gambhir, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav.

England: Alastair Cook (C), Haseeb Hameed, Joe Root, Ben Duckett, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Zafar Ansari, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Stuart Broad.

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