The action may have shifted west from Kolkata in the east, but up north, in the sky, there seems to be little change. The clouds appear to have followed India and Sri Lanka right across the country.
While the first match between the two teams was washed out, there was a brief spell of showers in the evening here and with more rain forecast, weather could play spoilsport again on Sunday.
But more trouble than the clouds alone are hovering over the Indian team. Injuries to players and the South Africa tour manager Chetan Desai’s leaked report stirred up things on Saturday.
Dravid explained that player injuries were his main concern. Yuvraj has not yet recovered from his back problem, Pathan has problems with his shoulder and Agarkar is fighting flu. “There is some concern about the fitness of the boys,” said Dravid. “They practised a bit today, and we have to see how they pull up tomorrow morning.”
Though the three did attend nets, Yuvraj appeared uncomfortable while batting and climbed the stairs to the pavilion with extreme caution. Pathan was not working up much pace, obviously not putting in his best and the two will probably not take the field on Sunday.
Dravid said Agarkar had a chance of playing. “He has been taking antibiotics, and hopefully, he should be fit.”
Meanwhile, Niranjan Shah had said on Friday that this match would be important for the likes of Sehwag and Pathan, with the World Cup squad being announced on Monday. However, interestingly, Dravid said this game would not have any impact on the Cup selection. “There is no such pressure on any player. The World Cup squad is not going to be picked on performances in this match. We will consider many factors — a player’s record, his ability, the conditions in which we play, etc.”
At the nets, Zaheer looked the most impressive, but it was Tendulkar who stole the show when he took time out to help out Uthappa.
The youngster mistimed a couple of shots off Tendulkar in the nets, when Tendulkar stopped and pointed out to the Karnataka batsman that he
was not moving his shoulders properly, and suggested a remedy.
But it is the bowling, that is a problem. Tendulkar had an extended bowling spell at the nets and the team management could be considering going into the match with specialists Zaheer, Munaf, Kumble and Harbhajan, with Tendulkar taking up the role of the fifth bowler.
The Sri Lankans, on the other hand, claimed that though the match in Kolkata was washed out, they had held the upper hand. “With Jayasuriya playing that well, we were in a good position, so we go in this match with confidence,” said skipper Mahela Jayawardene.