| Ajit Agarkar at the Lahore nets on Saturday
Lahore: Ashish Nehra went flat out during Saturday’s nets, ahead of the second Test beginning on Monday, and it appears he is firmly in contention for one of the three quicks’ berths. The fourth bowling slot is going to go to star leggie Anil Kumble, who has rejoined the touring party after becoming a father.
While Irfan Pathan is a certainty and Ajit Agarkar almost sure to make it as Zaheer Khan’s replacement, Nehra’s inclusion will then have to be at Lakshmipathy Balaji’s expense. The wicket, as of now, has much grass.
“Basically, it’s going to be (stand-in captain) Rahul Dravid’s call — he will have to choose between Nehra and Balaji, who didn’t do a bad job in Multan,” a well-placed source told The Telegraph.
India, of course, are 1-0 up in the three-match series.
Nehra, who arrived on Friday evening (as a ‘cover’ for Zaheer), pointed out he had been training back home in New Delhi and that the injury in the Rawalpindi ODI — splitting the webbing of his left hand — was something that could happen any time.
That injury, though, ensured Nehra headed home much earlier than expected. Yet, developments on the Zaheer front worked in his favour. So, less than a fortnight after clearing immigration at the Allama Iqbal International Airport, Nehra was back before immigration — this time in the arrival area.
“It’s exciting joining a team which has created history... Hopefully, I’ll have a part in the two Tests that remain,” he remarked, clarifying that his inability to field — not bowl — is what ruled him out of the original Test squad when the selection was made on March 22.
Meanwhile, four of the five national selectors —chairman Syed Kirmani, Pranab Roy, Kiran More and Sanjay Jagdale — have arrived to watch the Gaddafi Test. As was first reported in these columns, their (precedent-setting) trip is sponsored by the Board.
The fifth selector, MP Kirti Azad, isn’t coming as he is busy with the forthcoming general elections.
It’s learnt that four former captains — Chandu Borde, Gundappa Viswanath, Kapil Dev and Dilip Vengsarkar — are arriving on Monday. Incidentally, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi and Ajit Wadekar are going to be seen in Rawalpindi.