When the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Sanjay Jagdale called the chairman of the national selection panel, K Srikkanth, on Sunday and told him to keep a replacement ready for swinging sensation, Praveen Kumar, the former India opener was taken aback.
After consulting his fellow selectors, Srikkanth recommended Karnataka paceman Abhimanyu Mithun to take Praveen's spot, if required. However, neither Srikkanth nor his colleagues were aware what was wrong with the Uttar Pradesh bowler.
In fact, even the team management wasn't sure why Praveen was the lone man missing from training at the Barabati Stadium on Monday, ahead of the opening ODI against the West Indies.
“He has some niggle... He will come tomorrow or the day after. He is not available for the first ODI,” said stand-in captain Virender Sehwag.
While HT has learnt that the “niggle” that Sehwag was referring to was in fact an elbow problem that has dogged Praveen since his last international game — against England in the lone Twenty20 International in Kolkata on October 29 — the BCCI had a different take on this.
“Praveen Kumar has got a blunt chest on the left side, and has therefore been ruled out of the first three ODIs against the West Indies. Abhimanyu Mithun will replace him in the squad for the first three games,” a statement issued by Jagdale on Monday evening said. (Blunt chest is a trauma injury caused by a sudden impact).
However, there is no way one can take the BCCI’s version at face value. After all, after doing his elbow in during the England Twenty20, Praveen, who had been ruled out of the World Cup due to tennis elbow, was advised two weeks’ rest.
But since Uttar Pradesh were to play Saurashtra in a Ranji Trophy tie in Meerut, Praveen’s hometown, he made himself available for the match. But after bowling 27 overs in the first innings, he did not feel well. As a result, of the 41 overs UP bowled in Saurashtra’s second innings, Praveen bowled just one.
What’s interesting is that the national selectors had no clue about Praveen’s injury when they named the squad for the first three ODIs against West Indies. While Praveen was due to visit the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore for getting his fitness certificate, the physios at the NCA neither informed the selectors that PK had missed the test nor did they tell them that he had not been certified fit.
Assuming that Praveen was available for selection, the selectors not only named him in the squad for the ODIs but also for the Australia Test series.
While one cannot be certain whether PK will make an appearance during the West Indies ODIs, or in the Australia Tests for that matter, the soap opera of mysterious injuries to Indian cricketers just doesn’t seem to end.
(With inputs from Sharad Deep in Lucknow)