| Sachin Tendulkar
Calcutta: Sachin Tendulkar, laid low by a tennis elbow, won’t figure in Saturday’s high-voltage tri-series opener against Pakistan in Amstelveen, some 15 minutes from Amsterdam.
In fact, there’s a chance that the master bat is going to miss the entire (August 21-28) tournament. Team India’s match versus world champions Australia is on Monday.
“Sachin has been in considerable pain from yesterday and is out of tomorrow’s game,” coach John Wright told The Telegraph late on Friday.
Speaking from Amsterdam, he added: “Thankfully, an appointment has been made with a specialist (in neighbouring Rotterdam) and, so, a proper diagnosis should be available in a few hours from now…”
Later, manager Goutam Das Gupta indicated that Sachin could have to rest throughout India’s stay in Holland.
“It seems Sachin felt some stiffness in his left arm during nets in Mumbai, in the lead-up to the team’s departure (on Tuesday)… Then, the other day here, he had acute pain while negotiating a rising delivery… Let’s see what the specialist says but, at the moment, it doesn’t look too good,” Das Gupta observed.
Clearly, what’s more worrying is that the Champions Trophy (in England) — the biggest one-day competition outside the World Cup — isn’t many days away.
The psychological setback ahead of a key match apart, Sachin has been the man in form — testimony being 281 runs (the most by an Indian) in the recent Asia Cup.
| Rohan Gavaskar
In any case, with 13,415 runs, Sachin continues to be the most prolific batsman in ODIs. Incidentally, Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul Haq is No.2 on this list — but, way behind, on 9, 898.
With Sachin not playing, captain Sourav Ganguly will return to an opening berth. His partner, of course, is going to be Virender Sehwag.
Understandably, Sachin’s place in the XI will go to Rohan Gavaskar.
Rohan, who has made a comeback after being dropped for the tour of Pakistan and the Asia Cup, is going to bat at No.7.
Sachin isn’t the sole first XI player to miss such a crucial game: Also out of contention are Ashish Nehra, who hasn’t recovered from a debilitating viral, and Harbhajan Singh.
The off-spinner no longer has fever, but is so weak the thinktank doesn’t want to risk knocking him out for long.
So, Sourav and Wright will field Anil Kumble as the sole specialist spinner. The quicks are going to be Ajit Agarkar, Lakshmipathy Balaji and Irfan Pathan.
As with Rohan, it’s a comeback for Agarkar.
EXPECTED INDIAN XI
Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, V.V.S.Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Rohan Gavaskar, Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Anil Kumble.