Rahul Dravid walks into the media conference with a dark look, a folded sheet in his hand. He has bad news. The Irish summer, famously capricious, has not been kind to the Indian cricketers. On the eve of the one-day international against South Africa, they are struggling to find 11 match-fit players.
Flu and fever has wiped out the artillery, the pace attack: R.P. Singh, S. Sreesanth and Ajit Agarkar are unfit for combat; Zaheer Khan, yet to recover fully from a groin injury, now has flu to deal with too. Dravid himself does not look quite well. Ramesh Powar, Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa and M.S. Dhoni are also down.
That makes it nine down — out of the 15 India brought for the ODIs against Ireland, South Africa and Pakistan. At one stage, even the possibility of postponing the match was discussed. But it has been discarded. “There were a lot of things to be considered — TV, tickets, spectators, catering,” says Dravid. “It proved too difficult.”
Reinforcements have been sought. Baroda paceman Rakesh Patel, who is playing league cricket in Liverpool, has been sent an SOS. Freshmen pacers Ishant Sharma and Ranadeb Bose, named for the Tests against England, will fly in before Friday’s second ODI against the Proteas.
The joke here is that manager Chandu Borde, 72, could pad up. Borde himself is sanguine, given the circumstances. “I believe the (weather) forecast for tomorrow is bad, isn’t it?” he asks hopefully. Rain is predicted, but by Murphy’s Law, it may turn out to be the sunniest day of all.