On Friday, as the skies kept pouring with varying intensity, the Indian camp was hit by massive waves of outrageous misfortune.
Anil Kumble, on the eve of his first Test as captain at home, declared with an aggrieved air that Sachin Tendulkar is doubtful for the third Test. At the drawn Kolkata Test, the master, Kumble said, had aggravated a mild knee injury he had picked up in the ODI series.
“On the advice of a specialist here, an injection was administered to Tendulkar,” the skipper pronounced in even, grave tones. “His condition is improving, but we feel it is wise to call a back-up.”
• If Tendulkar is fit, the team might opt to rest Dhoni and go with Yuvraj as an extra batsman and DineshKarthik as an opener/ wicketkeeper.
• If Tendulkar can’t play, the skipper might push Dhoni to take the field.
• If both Tendulkar and Dhoni can’t play, Gautam Gambhir might open with Wasim Jaffer, Yuvraj may take Tendulkar’s place and Karthik Dhoni’s.
There’s more. MS Dhoni, the vice-captain who injured his ankle during the Jaipur ODI and still played the first two Tests, is likely to be rested Kumble said Dhoni needs to “rest for seven days to be 100 per cent.”
Though Tendulkar batted a bit in the truncated nets session, he’s highly unlikely to play; India leave for Australia nine days later, and they do not wish to take a chance with two of their key players.
But this means that, already with their first-choice pace attack, they have been seriously wounded.
The “back-up” summoned for the Test is Gautam Gambhir, whose status as India’s third preferred opener was thus affirmed.
Kumble had a curious answer when asked to explain the logic behind Gambhir coming in to cover for Tendulkar, even though India have on the bench Yuvraj Singh, in the form of his life.
The middle-order bursting with stars, Yuvraj has not been able to find a place in the team, but his time seems to have come.
“Just in case somebody pulls up in the morning with a stiff neck or something,” Kumble said when asked to explain the summons to Gambhir.
According to team sources, Yuvraj is almost certain to play, for Dhoni would definitely have rested if the Tendulkar situation had not arisen. Now it’s got a bit complicated.
The bigger worry is, of course, the pacemen, who’ve been falling like ninepins. With Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel, who shared the new ball at Kolkata, joining S Sreesanth and RP Singh in the infirmary, Irfan Pathan should open the attack.
VRV Singh or Ishant Sharma will partner Pathan; the possibility of getting Sourav Ganguly to bowl with Pathan exists, with the option of playing three spinners, but it’s very remote on this track and in these conditions, likened to the English summer.
Change waits for none, and in a matter of days, it has wrought an amazing transformation. Pakistan struggled to field 11 fit men in Kolkata. Those worries are transferred to India.