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Munaf to replace injured RP Singh

Munaf Patel has been drafted into India’s ODI squad for the Commonwealth Bank triangular series, reports Abhishek Hore.

cricket Updated: Jan 30, 2008 02:26 IST
Abhishek Hore

RP Singh’s loss has turned out to be Munaf Patel’s gain. Two days after Munaf expressed his desire to bowl on the fast and bouncy Australian wickets, the loose-limbed bowler on Tuesday was drafted into India’s ODI squad for the Commonwealth Bank triangular series in Australia as reinforcement for the injured RP.

The decision to send Munaf was taken after BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah held discussions with Chairman of Selectors Dilip Vengsarkar, selectors Sanjay Jagdale, Bhupinder Singh, Venkatapathy Raju and Ranjib Biswal, both currently in Australia, skipper MS Dhoni and manager Chetan Chauhan.

BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah, while confirming the news said, “Munaf was the best choice after his performance in the Duleep Trophy match."

RP, who pulled a hamstring after bowling just four overs in the drawn final Test at Adelaide, has been ruled out of action for at least three weeks and will fly back to India. “He (Munaf) has proved his fitness and bowled impressively in the only match he played,” Shah said of the bowler, who is expected to leave for Australia on Thursday.

Munaf, who returned to active cricket, after recent injuries, with the Duleep Trophy match between West and Central Zone, bowled well on a wicket that was least conducive for fast bowlers. Besides, Munaf also used the Kookaburra ball — that has a tendency to go soft — well, picking up three wickets.

“Unlike SG balls, Kookaburra balls don’t swing that much, so it calls for more hard work with the ball,” Munaf said.

Both Bhupinder and Munaf himself emphasised on the fact that he bowled 27 overs in Central’s first innings, thus putting to rest concerns about his form and fitness. “In all the four spells he bowled he looked impressive,” Bhupinder observed.

Asked if he himself was pleased with his fitness Munaf said, “I think I’m fit and that’s why I could bowl 27 overs.”

The Indian pacers’ performance on the favourable Australian wickets was what motivated Munaf to go flat out in the Duleep Trophy match. The maverick pacer took time to search for the right adjectives when asked about his contemporaries’ showing in Australia.

He pondered over the question for a while before hitting the right superlatives.

“Brilliant. They have done a great job in the series. All of them made handsome contributions,” Munaf said.