| Virender Sehwag grimaces after hurting his finger while attempting a catch Wednesday. (Reuters)
Cape Town: Coach John Wright had just announced that the “best” Indian XI will be fielded against Kenya, in the first Super Six game Friday, when Virender Sehwag hurt his right index finger while attempting a high catch at nets this afternoon.
Sehwag was promptly taken to hospital for a precautionary X-Ray and, though the report didn’t reveal a fracture, Wright and captain Sourav Ganguly will be “reviewing” his availability.
By late Wednesday, Harbhajan Singh’s chances of playing had got even better. As for Virender Sehwag, he wasn’t in much discomfort.
“All I can say is that the injury didn’t result in a fracture," informed physio Andrew Leipus, who has been kept busy by Ashish Nehra and Sachin Tendulkar. The maestro’s left thigh muscles have stopped playing up, but Nehra’s left ankle isn’t hundred per cent okay.
At this moment, however, Nehra isn’t on the doubtful list.
Whatever the availability of the first-choice players, the Indians can ill afford to treat Kenya as a lightweight. After all, twice in recent years — 1998 (Gwalior) and 2001 (Port Elizabeth) — they have paid for being complacent. Moreover, Kenya have taken to the Super Six with as many as ten points, two more than India.
“We’ll have to respect Kenya and, just as important, keep our feet on the ground... In fact, we’ve got to remember that we are only one of six teams in the World Cup’s second phase and that we are just half way there,” remarked Wright, ensuring that his philosophical touch wasn’t missing.
Interacting with the Media at Newlands — where, by the way, batting second can be a tough ask — Wright added: “We are, therefore, preparing in exactly the same manner as we would for any other match... We’ll have to keep up the intensity and must be hungry. Of course, I’m aware of the problems while chasing (here), but we’ve got the batsmen to deliver — be it batting first or second.”
But, was he surprised at the Super Six line-up — specially the presence of Kenya and Zimbabwe'
Wright could have acted diplomatic, but chose not to. “Well, at the start of the tournament, you probably wouldn’t have looked at some of the teams, but all credit to the ones who made it... Actually, in the league stage, we focussed on what we had control over instead of worrying about the composition of the Super Six...”
Inevitably, somebody had to ask a question on the disaster in New Zealand and, being the obliging sort, Wright answered: “The failures there brought the team together... The batsmen, in particular, had to lift their confidence. The past few weeks have seen them do just that.”
An unabashed admirer of Sachin, Wright acknowledged it was his “privilege” to watch the maestro’s 98 at Centurion (versus Pakistan). “I believe Sachin played at a level which, even for him, was higher than usual... May this form continue."
Incidentally, unless there are developments on the Sehwag front, the XI is likely to see one change only — Harbhajan Singh replacing Anil Kumble. “It’s a reasonable possibility,” a well-placed source told The Telegraph this evening.
Thanking the PM
Meanwhile, the Indian team has faxed a “Thank-You” letter to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for the sentiments expressed in his communication after the win over Pakistan.
“We’ve pledged to keep the national flag flying high,” informed manager Jyoti Bajpai.