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Do they have the legs?

Nobody is pressing the panic button as yet, but the fitness, or the lack of it, of some of the Indian players has suddenly become an issue. Atreyo Mukhopadhyay reports. Walking wounded

cricket Updated: Feb 24, 2011 01:46 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

Nobody is pressing the panic button as yet, but the fitness, or the lack of it, of some of the Indian players has suddenly become an issue.

For the second day running, the team practiced at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, and like a day earlier, Virender Sehwag was absent on Wednesday, while Ashish Nehra showed up but did not do any of the workout the others did.

This being another optional session, attendance was not compulsory but the absence of these two becomes significant because of what happened to them in Dhaka on Saturday. Sehwag didn’t field after scoring 175 in the first half after Nehra had been ruled out of that match due to a back problem. That neither has been visibly active since causes a bit of concern ahead of Sunday’s game against England.

Sehwag will be fit
Team manager Ranjib Biswal, however, insisted that nothing was wrong with Sehwag and that he would be there when the team turns up for training on Thursday morning.

“Today’s was also an optional session and that’s why Sehwag didn't come. He will be there tomorrow,” he said. Sehwag hurt his left knee when the ball struck him off the inside edge while he attempted a cut shot during the knock of 175 against Bangladesh.

Nehra in doubt?
The same can't be said about Nehra. Like Tuesday, the left-arm pacer came to the ground with his teammates. But he wasn’t seen when the players had nets at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) complex, and when they came to the main ground for fielding practice. It was learnt that the NCA physios were working on him.

Nobody said it officially, but it looked as if Nehra was undergoing a fitness test when he ran a few laps around the ground after everyone else had finished their routines. Usually, a player is asked to go through such drills only when his fitness is under doubt. “There is a bit of a niggle in his back,” Biswal reiterated. NCA sources confirmed that Nehra is under the scanner.

Tendulkar looks okay
Sachin Tendulkar allayed fears over his troublesome knee, and was in full flow. Having skipped training a day earlier, he batted for about 45 minutes at the nets, against the India and local bowlers.

There was some extra padding around his left knee which made it clear that Tendulkar is not taking any chances.

Later, Tendulkar returned with his right knee taped when some of the batsmen had hitting practice on a pitch adjacent to the playing strip in the main stadium.

It was essentially a round meant for lusty hitting against the slower bowlers and Tendulkar opted to bat left-handed. Of the 20-odd deliveries he faced, Tendulkar still lofted three of them into the

Harbhajan Singh was the other player who opted out of Wednesday's Practice, but Biswal said there was nothing to worry about him.

Cup crazy
Meanwhile, the Cup fever has well and truly gripped Bangalore.
About 8000 tickets (the rest has been sold out) for Sunday's India-England clash go on sale on Thursday, and people started queuing up from Wednesday night.

It can get chilly at night here, but the diehards looked adequately geared up, with blankets and warm clothes. The cops were chasing them, but the fans were not to be discouraged, popping up near the counters as soon as the men in uniform were gone.

This is World Cup after all.