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Another break point

The Ranji matches were to serve as an ideal preparation for the England series, but it seems the ploy has backfired, Sanjjeev K Samyal reports.

cricket Updated: Nov 05, 2012 02:04 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal

The Ranji matches were to serve as an ideal preparation for the England series, but it seems the ploy has backfired.

On the eve of the senior selection committee meeting, Zaheer Khan limped out of Mumbai's game against Railways midway through his post-tea spell to cast a doubt over his availability for the first Test, which starts in Ahmedabad on November 15.

That opener Virender Sehwag has also picked up a finger injury (cut on the ring finger of the right hand) during Delhi's game against Uttar Pradesh means the new selectors' first meeting to pick a Test team will be a testing one.

With no time available for a fitness test, the main responsibility of Sandeep Patil and Co will be to check on the extent of these injuries first.

Hopes remain
The selectors would now be depending on how the two show up in their respective Ranji games on Monday morning.

Patil has been at the Wankhede Stadium on the first two days, and due to the latest development, is likely to first check out action at the ground before heading into the adjacent Cricket Centre to chair the meeting.

As his Mumbai teammates looked on in disbelief, Zaheer limped off in his 21st over of the innings.

At Ghaziabad, there were initial concerns Sehwag's injury might be serious when he didn't come out to open. Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya said Sehwag had 'one or two stitches but it was nothing serious.'

Mumbai captain Ajit Agarkar said cramp had caused the discomfort for the pacer. "Yes, I hope so," the former India paceman said when asked whether Zaheer will be available for selection.

"He was just cramping badly. It got a little humid the last couple of days (and he's) probably dehydrated a little bit. He should be okay and should be on the field tomorrow morning," he added.

The left-arm pacer - with a history of groin trouble - bowled 11.5 overs on Sunday in four spells -- the first three read 5-0-9-0, 2-0-6-0 and 4-0-13-1. The last one lasted five balls.

On the fifth ball, he just ran in and delivered the ball without his usual jump and there was no follow through. The discomfort was evident the previous delivery as well when he clutched his groin on the follow through.

And at the top of his mark, he spoke to Sachin Tendulkar, pointing to his groin.

Zaheer had raised concerns when he didn't take the field after tea for five overs, which was also attributed to stiffness caused by high humidity.

Zaheer's only wicket had come in his 19th over, his third over with the second new ball, when he removed Mahesh Rawat.

Breakdown history
Zaheer's career has been plagued by injuries and it will be interesting to see how the selectors view his latest breakdown.

Even when India last played in England (in 2011), he was sidelined by an hamstring injury on the opening day of the first Test at Lord's and missed the rest of the tour.

It caused an uproar and led to the Indian cricket board making it mandatory to have thorough fitness tests before selection.

Sehwag has a similarly poor fitness record and was another example of injury mismanagement in England.

He was rushed midway into the series after shoulder surgery, only to miss the one-day series which followed as he had not fully recovered.

(With inputs from Khurram Habib)