India got off to a most inauspicious start after Rohit Sharma, himself a last-minute replacement for VVS Laxman, twisted his left ankle 15 minutes before the toss.
The Indian team was warming up, playing what skipper Dhoni called “rocket-ball”, when Sharma slipped and twisted his left ankle. “We weren't playing football, this is a game where you throw the ball with your hands, you don't use your feet except to run,” said Dhoni, when asked about the wisdom of playing such games ahead of a big match.
Dhoni said the “unfortunate” accident was one of those things that could happen anytime, giving the example of how Rahul Dravid was injured while playing cricket. “Injuries are part and parcel of the game and beyond our control. You don't really expect so many injuries in such a short span.”
The end result was that India lost two batsmen on the morning of the game and this handed a very surprised stumper Wriddhiman Saha, his debut. Saha, in the team as cover for Dhoni's bad back, was congratulated by coach Gary Kirsten and fellow debutant S. Badrinath just ahead of the toss.
“You have to see your options,” said Dhoni. “He (Saha) was the best available as we didn't want to play a fifth bowler.”
Saha, a familiar face during the IPL as part of the Kolkata Knight Riders, becomes one of a tiny club of players from Bengal to have earned the India Test cap, the first since Sourav Ganguly retired.
The 25-year-old from Siliguri will, incidentally, play only as a batsman, and is expected to come in at No. 7. Dhoni said the thought of handing over the gloves to Saha hadn't crossed his mind. Meanwhile, Sharma will deal with his heartbreak at the National Cricket Academy, where he will be taken to ascertain the extent of damage to his ankle.