There have been some significant off-field developments in the last few days, none more notable than Rahul Dravid's recall to one-day cricket, and his subsequent retirement from it.
Knowing him, I don’t think he expected a return to the one-day fold. It was implied that he was done as a one-day cricketer because he wasn’t picked for the World Cup or other tournaments in the last two years. Suddenly, with the ball swinging and seaming, and bouncing to chin height, his need was felt.Probably, a call to check if he was keen to play one-day cricket would have been appropriate, given his stature. Rahul is one who has gone about doing whatever he has been asked to without fuss. By announcing his retirement, he has made a statement — "Don't pick me when it suits you".
There is still a lot left in the Test series. In the absence of Zaheer and Harbhajan, India could go in with four pacemen, especially because Amit Mishra hasn’t done much to help his cause in the warm-up games.
As for Zaheer, there is no reason to think that this is the end of the road for him. I can say from experience that the worst part is not surgery but the rehab, and the older you are, the harder you have to work. But I am sure he is motivated enough to come back and do well.
Given the on-field developments and the rioting that has now spread to Birmingham, India's preparation have not been ideal. I can't but help recall the tour of Australia in ’07-08. A lot of things happened in the second Test at Sydney, but we came back hard in Perth and almost saved the series in Adelaide, this after losing the first two Tests. It all boils down to how hungry India are. This time, they look a little more worn out, but it's crucial the captain leads the way.