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Wanted: An apt replacement for Zak

Zaheer has missed the second Test, not necessarily as a precautionary measure, but because it takes that long a time to heal the injured hamstring. Aakash Chopra writes.

india Updated: Jul 30, 2011 01:24 IST
Aakash Chopra
Injured-Zaheer-Khan-walks-around-the-boundary-during-the-game-against-England-during-day-two-of-the-first-Test-match-at-Lord-s-in-London
Injured-Zaheer-Khan-walks-around-the-boundary-during-the-game-against-England-during-day-two-of-the-first-Test-match-at-Lord-s-in-London

Zaheer has missed the second Test, not necessarily as a precautionary measure, but because it takes that long a time to heal the injured hamstring.

An early return to competitive sport could result in a relapse making the injury worse. This may prompt Team India to ask the selectors to provide cover for an injured Zaheer.

Abhimanyu Mithun would be the most obvious choice, for he was a part of the Test squad for the West Indies. But it would be wise to browse through other options too. There are two schools of thought at work while picking a player — 1. Go by a player’s past experience, or 2. Be ruthless and go strictly by current form.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/30_07_11-metro19b.jpg

In case of a replacement bowler, we must identify the main requirements. Should it be swing, pace, the ability to bowl longer spells, wicket-taking ability or something else?

Keeping in mind the English conditions and the pacemen at our disposal, I'd go for someone who can take wickets and yet bowl longer spells
with discipline. Someone who could swing the ball but also bowl reasonably quicker than Praveen, for two of the same kind won't help.
The first name I’d throw in for consideration is Rajasthan's Pankaj Singh, who was also the highest wicket-taker in the last first-class season.

He’s tall, gets the ball to swing both in the air and off the surface, and can bowl for long spells. His 53 wickets in the season were a just reward for his endurance. Since the Duke ball used in England is quite similar to the SG Test used in India, he won’t even take time to adjust. But if we are looking for sheer pace to unsettle the batsmen, our search shall start and stop at Umesh Yadav. He’s the only bowler in India who generates high speeds and was rewarded with a place in the Test squad to South Africa. If speed is his strength, height is his bane, which is shorter than what is ideal for Test cricket.

I’d also consider left-arm seamers, for they’ve been extremely successful on previous tours. In this regard, we are spoilt for choices. We could either go back to RP Singh, a star in 2007 England series, or the man who leapfrogged everyone to make his Test debut in South Africa, Jaidev Unadkat. If both don't fit the bill, we can also look at the Karnataka paceman, S Aravind.
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