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Munaf makes a good comeback

cricket Updated: Jul 07, 2011 00:35 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times
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Standing with his hands on the hips, sporting a lazy smile, Munaf Patel appears to be half a world away, in one of the nondescript playing fields of Ikhar, his home in Gujarat.

But there is nothing lethargic about the bouncer he lets rip at the Windsor Park Stadium nets. Virat Kohli, troubled by Fidel Edwards throughout his debut series, doubles up desperately as the new ball whizzes past his ear. The smile never fades as Munaf walks up to tell the shaken batsman that there is some unpredictable bounce in the pitch.

That he could bowl more than a few deliveries, at a decent pace and extract nip off the pitch, is a victory of sorts for him and the support staff, who were desperate to get Munaf fit to play his first Test since the New Zealand tour in April 2009. An elbow problem since the final stages of the one-day series, which is apparently gout, had forced him into the dull routine of bowling a few deliveries at the nets before being tended to by physio Ashish Kaushik.

His Test comeback - a spate of injuries and poor form have restricted him to just 12 Tests since debut in 2006 - after two years is seen as crucial by the team management, which believes his skill would be a vital option in England.

The confidence stems from the fact that Munaf is an integral part of the one-day side. He was a regular in the World Cup and bowled sharply to help win the first three ODIs in the West Indies before being forced to sit out.

But having won the fitness race to the Dominica Test, Munaf and the team would be hoping it is the first of many matches, without breaks.