The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Agarkar almost certain for XI
- Nehra rushed to Lahore; Greenish track awaits Indians

Lahore: Left-arm quick Ashish Nehra has been rushed as an additional player, but it’s Ajit Agarkar who is almost sure of featuring in the XI for the second Test, beginning on Monday. The Indians are ahead in the three-match series.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, it’s more or less certain that Agarkar is going to take the injured Zaheer Khan’s place even though Nehra has been sent as a ‘cover’.

Indeed, if Nehra is to be included, then Lakshmipathy Balaji will have to be dropped. After all, nobody in his senses is going to fiddle around with Irfan Pathan, who keeps reminding everybody in these parts of the young Wasim Akram — incidentally, his idol.

The 3-1 — with Anil Kumble the sole specialist spinner — combination won’t be changed as the Gaddafi wicket has a greenish look and the Pakistan Cricket Board has “instructed” the curator(s) not to shave the grass.

For now, Zaheer is staying on. However, whether he is going to continue doing so will be decided in a couple of days. “The preliminary report (of a scan) hasn’t revealed any right hamstring injury... It’s more of a muscular problem,” informed manager Prof. Ratnakar Shetty.

Nehra, it may be recalled, was in the ODI squad and would surely have been retained for the Test series but for a hand injury while fielding during the Rawalpindi game. He returned home before the ODIs got over and has come back following a “specific request” from the thinktank.

Apparently, Nehra “passed” a fitness test in Mumbai on Thursday.

Incidentally, regular captain Sourav Ganguly’s replacement (for the time being, that is) Mohammed Kaif too arrived from New Delhi on Friday evening.

Also aboard that Indian Airlines flight were the wives of stand-in captain Rahul Dravid (Vijeeta), V.V.S.Laxman (Sailaja), Agarkar (Fatima) and Murali Kartik (Shweta). Laxman’s parents have arrived as well, while Pathan’s are expected on Saturday.

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