The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sachin's return won't be in Chennai
- Ajit Agarkar, Mohammed Kaif in contention for second Test versus Australia

Calcutta: It's not official, but Sachin Tendulkar's return to action won't be in Chennai, venue of the second Test against Australia, from Thursday.

'I'll have a bat (at nets) tomorrow but, at this moment, I'm looking at Nagpur,' Sachin, who has been off cricket for almost two months owing to a tennis elbow, told The Telegraph on Tuesday evening.

That's a huge blow for Team India, down 0-1 in the four-Test series. Nagpur, of course, is where the third Test is going to be played ' from October 26.

Speaking from the Taj Coromandal, Sachin added: 'I'm better, yes, but nobody can put a time-frame to complete recovery... I continue to be guided by our physio (Andrew Leipus) and the doctor (Chris Bradshaw) who treated me in London...'

Sachin was supposed to have his first full-fledged nets, at the Chepauk in the afternoon, but restricted himself to bowling, thereby conveying he won't immediately be available for selection.

Apparently, Sachin didn't feel 'strong enough' to grip the bat he usually uses and, so, decided just to turn his arm over. Moreover, he isn't exactly comfortable having a thousand cameramen recording every move of his.

But, then, it cannot be otherwise.

'Each day, we live in hope... Sachin is special and will play once he feels strong enough... Today, though, it's highly unlikely he's going to be up for selection (on Thursday),' remarked Leipus.

Eventually, it will be Sachin's call alone. And, what must be remembered is that a premature return may lead to a relapse. In his case, that could mean an even longer lay-off, possibly three months.

Sachin, however, has resumed training indoors with a light bat and tennis balls. Incidentally, a steroid injection in Bangalore (before the first Test) has definitely quickened recovery.

Meanwhile, one understands the Indian XI may see two changes as seamer Ajit Agarkar and middle-order bat Mohammed Kaif have come into contention in a pretty big way.

While Kaif could make it at the expense of Akash Chopra or Yuvraj Singh ' the latter should open if the axe falls on Chopra ' Agarkar is being tipped to replace Zaheer Khan.

Agarkar, it may be recalled, played a stellar role in India's last big league win over Australia ' in Adelaide, ten months ago. Kaif, though, hasn't featured in a Test for over three years.

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