India’s mission to register their maiden Test series victory in Sri Lanka suffered a setback even before MS Dhoni and his men took off, what with India’s pace spearhead Zaheer Khan ruled out.
So the last thing India wanted ahead of their three-day warm-up game, which starts on Tuesday, was another injury breakdown, especially in the bowling department.
But it wasn’t to be. While Harbhajan Singh could not board the bus as India had their first full-fledged practice session due to fever, there was more bad news at the R Premadasa stadium as soon as the session began. S Sreesanth, who was expected to lead the pace battery in Zaheer’s absence, clutched his left knee minutes after he started to bowl.
Sreesanth, who trained at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore prior to the team’s departure, headed straight into the temporary shed that served as the team’s dressing room. He appeared to be in pain, and all he did for rest of the three-hour session was to have some treatment and watch his teammates trying to get into the groove from a distance.
Later in the day, Sreesanth was taken to a hospital for an MRI scan, the result of which would be known on Monday. Though the player and the team management “hoped for the best”, Sreesanth’s chances to play the warm-up game appeared “miniscule”. In fact, a team source revealed that it would be “very difficult” for Sreesanth to be available for the first Test that starts in Galle next Sunday.
Harbhajan, meanwhile, continued to rest in his room for the second successive day. It was confirmed that the off-spinner was “down with viral fever”. Even if he recovers in time for the warm-up game, he’s likely to take it easy and skip the three-day affair to be 100 per cent fit before the first Test.
Young speedsters Umesh Yadav and Jaidev Unadkat, called in as net bowlers, had long spells.
If Sreesanth is ruled out of the first Test on Monday, don’t be surprised if the team management and the selectors decide to retain one of the two youngsters when the team proceeds to Galle on Friday.