More than a consistent South African outfit, injuries to key players has been India’s biggest concern ahead of what is a must-win Test starting Friday. And while India had a reason to smile with Ishant Sharma and S Sreesanth delcared fit, it was not clear whether skipper Anil Kumble would be able to take to the field.
“I have to wait till the morning (of the match),” Kumble, who did not bowl much during the team’s practice session, told a media conference on Thursday. “If I can bowl then I will play and that is the kind of attitude I have. So I will assess how I feel in the morning.”
However Kumble, nursing a right groin injury, conceded he wasn’t “completely comfortable bowling in the nets”.
Despite hurting his groin in the first Test in Chennai, Kumble played in Ahmedabad last week and did not appear to be comfortable. And it was learnt that Kumble’s statement in his column ahead of the second Test saying, “I will play even if I am 10 per cent fit,” did not go down well with the authorities.
Meanwhile, Kumble clarified that both Ishant and Sreesanth were “fit” and would be available for selection. Ishant, who flew in from Bangalore on Tuesday, bowled a fair amount in the nets but was seen being taken to the dressing room by team physio Paul Close. It remains to be seen if the team management decides to risk Ishant if he is not 100 per cent fit for a crucial tie.
Sreesanth, meanwhile, appeared to have recovered from his shoulder pain and was at ease while practising.
But with Kumble’s injury, India would not be in a position to decide the final team combination till the morning of the match.
Squad of 16
The national selection committee was thus forced to announce a squad of 16 players for the third Test, thanks to fitness concerns. While off-spinner Ramesh Powar was called in as a “back-up” for Kumble ahead of the match, he was inducted into the squad on Thursday.
“He (Powar) is a part of the squad, he is part of the sixteen,” Kumble said, indicating Powar would be a near-certainty in the eleven.
However, it was perhaps for the first time that India have a squad of 16 players for a home Test. Teams like England and Australia, most of the times, go in with a squad of 13 players for home matches.
BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah clarified that the squad “will be trimmed to 14” on the first day of the match. It remains to be seen which two players are asked to pack their bags on Friday.