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Injury cloud looms large

cricket Updated: Aug 15, 2010 23:59 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
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The unexpected downpour certainly brought mercury levels down during the day in Dambulla on Sunday. Though the clouds dispersed in the afternoon, the injury cloud over India's cricketers in Sri Lanka kept rising on the eve of their crucial tri-series encounter against Sri Lanka.

The latest to join the ailing or injured cricketers' club was Yuvraj Singh.

The southpaw, who missed the second Test against Sri Lanka due to flu and was dropped for the last Test, was diagnosed with dengue on Independence Day. As a result, Yuvraj was ruled out of Monday's tie.

Yuvraj, the most experienced one-day player in India's squad of 16, must be cursing his luck since, during Saturday's practice session, he appeared to be getting his touch back with the bat.

Though he looked edgy while batting during India's opening encounter against New Zealand, his return to fielding at point was an indication that the injury-ridden batsman was at his best in terms of fitness.

While Yuvraj will definitely be unavailable for Monday's tie and a doubtful starter for Sunday's tie against the same opponents, that's not the fitness concern the team management had on Sunday. They were closely monitoring the fitness of Ashish Nehra.

"We are monitoring Nehra. He has got a bit of problem with his glute. So we will take the exact decision before the game," skipper Dhoni said.

It was learnt that Nehra, a one-day specialist left-arm seamer, developed the problem during the New Zealand tie.

The only good news was the availability of Ishant Sharma. The fast bowler, who had missed the tri-series opener due to an ankle problem after bowling his heart out during the Test series, has recovered from the niggle and is set to replace Nehra in the eleven come Monday.

Yuvraj's injury means Virat Kohli will get his first outing in the tournament, but it will be interesting to see if the team management persists with Ravindra Jadeja for the all-rounder's slot.

Sri Lanka, for their part, will be keen to replicate their recent performance against the Kiwis. With all players available for selection, the hosts have looked to be the most formidable unit in the early parts of the tournament.

Off-spinner Suraj Randiv, who emerged as the highest wicket-taker during the Test series against India, is expected to feature in the eleven.

However, the sudden downpour prevented skipper Kumar Sangakkara from revealing the likely combination.

"If we weren't playing cricket, the rains would be welcome," Sangakkara said. "At this moment, we will have to reassess now tomorrow when we go to the ground and what the conditions are like."