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Zaheer injury a worry for India

India have a fitness concern over their strike bowler Zaheer Khan as they attempt to fend off Australia's push for a series-levelling victory in the third cricket Test.

india Updated: Dec 28, 2003 03:36 IST

India have a fitness concern over their strike bowler Zaheer Khan as they attempt to fend off Australia's push for a series-levelling victory in the third cricket Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The Indians ended the second day's play on the back foot with Australia just 49 runs away from their first-innings total of 366 but with seven wickets in hand at 317 for three.

The job to restrict what is shaping as a potential match-winning innings lead has become even more daunting with Zaheer suffering another hamstring twinge after missing the second Adelaide Test with the same injury.

Zaheer was declared fit for the Boxing Day Test, but vice captain Rahul Dravid confirmed he suffered a twinge early in his first spell on Saturday.

He only bowled 13 overs, returning for a spell in the last session, and is clearly not 100 percent fit.

"He started the Test match fit enough to play, he passed the fitness test, he was bowling at full strength in the nets, he did everything required of him before the start of the game, so he was declared fit," Dravid said after Saturday's play.

"In the course of his fourth or fifth over he did feel a bit of a twinge, but he showed a bit of character to stay on and keep bowling.

"It was something that happened during the course of the game.

"There is a slight worry at the moment, but he showed a lot of character to keep bowling in spite of experiencing that twinge early on in that spell, but it was a tough day for us and he knew he had to keep bowling, so he did it."

Zaheer's setback added to a difficult day for the tourists, who squandered Friday's positive start by losing 6-16 before lunch to stumble from an overnight 329 for four to be all out for 366.

Centuries by Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting compounded India's woes, with Ponting to resume on Sunday on 120.

"It was a tough day, we didn't get as many runs as we would have liked to and they batted well," Dravid said.

"We had a great platform and we couldn't build on it, we lost wickets to a combination of poor shots and they put the ball in the right areas this morning."

First Published: Dec 27, 2003 19:53 IST