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Now, Praveen gives visitors more agony

At the end of the first Test, a senior player was learnt to be cursing loudly. He said everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong at Lord's. In hindsight, he spoke too early. Sanjjeev Karan Samyal reports.

india Updated: Aug 17, 2011 00:26 IST
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal

Praveen-Kumar-bowls-during-Day-1-of-the-first-Test-match-against-England-at-Lord-s-Cricket-Ground-in-London

At the end of the first Test, a senior player was learnt to be cursing loudly. He said everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong at Lord's. In hindsight, he spoke too early. Things went from bad to worst for the team each day of the series.

India's cup of woes is overflowing on the eve of the fourth Test. Praveen Kumar, who has emerged as their bowling mainstay, is a doubtful starter. The huge workload seems to have taken its toll.

Once main strike bowler Zaheer Khan limped out of the series early, Kumar heroically rose to the challenge by showing remarkable stamina and acumen. He bowled 40.3 and 20 overs in the two innings at Lord's, 22 and 36 overs at Trent Bridge and 40 overs at Edgbaston: A total of 158.3 overs.

Fears come true
There was always a danger of him breaking down and it looks the worst fears have come true. There were concerns at Edgbaston when despite being his best bowler; the Indian skipper MS Dhoni did not employ him for long periods towards the end of England's marathon innings. After bowling the 129th over, Kumar was brought on again only in the 188th over, and the England innings was over in 189th over.

Kumar's left foot didn't look good in his last over and he twice felt it on his way back. On Monday, his absence was conspicuous in the training session. The official line was that it was optional practice, but every other player was present.

With the series also decided, it won't make sense risking Kumar, who will be important during the one-day campaign. It means Dhoni's limited bowling options will be reduced further. There is a good case for playing two spinners at the Oval as the wicket is known to assist spinners.

But if the management opts to continue with a three-man pace attack, between Patel and RP, the former holds the edge. He has not made much of an impression in the tour games he played, but is more tuned in to the conditions. From the impression gathered at the nets on Monday, RP didn't look sharp and match fit. He started by bowling off a few paces and gradually increased his run up but for most part bowled within himself and was done within 15 minutes.