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Dravid out of ODIs, VVS in

Laxman, who was overlooked for the ODIs, is making a comeback after a gap of nearly one year, writes Kadambari Murali.

india Updated: Nov 28, 2006 17:01 IST

India seem to be followed by the curse of the finger. First, Virender Sehwag was done in during the tour game at Benoni soon after landing in South Africa when he needed stitches on his right ring finger while attempting to catch a skier and now, it is that much worse, with Indian skipper Rahul Dravid out of the remainder of the one-day series after fracturing the middle finger on his right hand.

VVS Laxman is being flown in to replace Dravid. Laxman would probably not be able to make it in time for Wednesday's game, which, in effect, will leave the Twenty20 match on Friday and the final one-dayer at the Centurion for him to play.

Venkatapathy Raju told HT in Delhi that since Laxman was being sent for the Test series anyway, the selectors decided to play him in the remaining limited-over matches.

Sehwag, who sat out India's 157-run loss at Kingsmead and came back for a two-ball duck at Newlands on Sunday, will lead the team in the absence of Dravid, who does not require surgery, will remain with the team and as things stand, is expected to be fit for the Test series that follows.

India already have a 16-member squad in place instead of the usual 15 and even in Sunday's game in Cape Town, three batsmen warmed the bench — Wasim Jaffer, Suresh Raina and Dinesh Mongia.

Luckily, there is a gap of sorts between the one-day series, which ends on the coming Sunday (December 3) and the Test series, which begins in Johannesburg on the 15th. Dravid will also miss the warm-up game in Potchefstroom in between (December 7 to 10).

But really, things couldn't have been worse for India — Dravid, in addition to being skipper, was the one in-form batsman of the moment (relative to how out of form everyone else is). He top-scored in the tour game at Benoni and top-scored (to no avail) in India's second straight loss to the Proteas on Sunday.

The medical report read out by Indian media manager Rajan Nair stated that he had an avulsion fracture, which is basically a bone fracture that occurs when a fragment of bone tears away from the main mass of bone as a result of a physical trauma.

Dravid incidentally, suffered the injury while trying to take a catch (which he dropped) Shaun Pollock off Harbhajan Singh's first over. The ball came flying over his raised right hand and apparently knocked it back while going down. He was in tremendous pain and was treated for it in the 38th over but opted to stay through on painkillers and batted (almost through the shortened innings) with a cover on the finger.

When he took it off later, post the game, it was swollen but it wasn't possible to get to a clinic or an orthopaedic surgeon both because it was late, and the fact that everything here shuts down over the weekend. His wife, by the way, a qualified surgeon, is in Johannesburg with their son.

So he stayed on with Indian physio John Gloster in Cape Town this morning, even while the rest of the team came here for the third game (another day-nighter) at the St George's Park on Wednesday. He will be back here on Tuesday morning and will stay with the team.

First Published: Nov 27, 2006 15:40 IST