India’s hopes of carrying forward the momentum of the ODI series victory to the Tests received a serious jolt, with fast bowlers S Sreesanth and Rudra Pratap Singh being ruled out due to injury just two days before the opening encounter at the Ferozeshah Kotla.
BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah revealed this in a statement, without giving out any detail.
The injuries leave just Zaheer Khan in the pace department in the squad of 14. With Irfan Pathan missing and the team summoning an out-of-sorts Munaf Patel as replacement, the situation looks worrisome.
RP Singh emerged the highest wicket-taker for India with a haul of six in four ODIs, while Sreesanth, brought in for the final match at Jaipur, was the lone bright spot among the home side’s bowlers there.
But Shah was unperturbed. “There are still two days to go and we will work out a solution.”
While Sreesanth, reportedly carrying an injury from the Jaipur one-dayer, did not turn up at the Kotla, Singh paired with Zaheer briefly at the nets before making a quiet exit.
Some cheer was in store for India though, as MS Dhoni appeared to be on the road to recovery after twisting his ankle while batting in Jaipur. Anil Kumble’s deputy was in the thick of action first in his usual role as wicketkeeper and then as batsman. The flamboyant player appeared in no discomfort as he involved himself in fielding practice with fielding coach Robin Singh, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly and Wasim Jaffer.
Openers Dinesh Karthik and Wasim Jaffer along with Sachin Tendulkar were the first to pad up and face the pacemen and the spin duo of Murali Kartik and Yuvraj Singh, along with some local talent.
After the batting stint, the openers were put through other paces that included trainer Gregory Allen King timing their running between wickets and Robin and Dhoni giving them catching practice in the slip cordon.
True to recent form, Sachin Tendulkar looked solid during his prolonged session with the bat and later sent down his off-breaks and googlies to Rahul Dravid, who has been in regal touch in the two Ranji Trophy matches he played after being overlooked for the one-dayers.
Ganguly had a lean run in the shorter version and after a session with the willow, was spotted in conversation with former India opener Chetan Chauhan.
After inspecting the wicket, Kumble and Harbhajan Singh made a late entry before sending down teasers to batsmen.A disconcerting note though, was the overwhelming presence of khaki. If that was not enough, outsiders and kin of DDCA officials mobbed the tight-lipped players for photographs and autographs, making things further difficult for reporters in their quest for soundbites.