The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Yuvraj to benefit in Sachin's absence
- I'm much better and should be fit for the second Test: Tendulkar

Bangalore: Much as he wanted to, Sachin Tendulkar won't be able to play the first Test of the newest series against Australia, beginning here on Wednesday.

'Provisionally' in the Team India XV for the first two Tests (second being in Chennai), Sachin arrived on Monday morning but didn't join nets proper at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Instead, he spent around three hours at the National Cricket Academy gym there.

'I did some strengthening exercises... I've been asked not to rush and do things gradually... I'll resume nets once I get the all-clear from our physio (Andrew Leipus),' Sachin, recovering from a tennis elbow, told The Telegraph on returning to the Grand Ashok.

He added, calmly: 'Of course, I'm much better and should be fit for the second Test (from October 14)...' The star batsman has been off cricket from the middle of August.

The national selectors gambled by including Sachin, largely because captain Sourav Ganguly was 'very keen' to have him in the XI, but at least Sachin can complete his rehab under the direct supervision of Leipus.

'It's terribly disappointing... The good news, though, is that Sachin is expected to fire in Chennai... That's the best one can look forward to,' remarked Sourav, speaking exclusively.

Sachin's non-availability means Yuvraj Singh will benefit. Specifically, then, he is going to bat at No.6. As officially announced, Akash Chopra will partner Virender Sehwag at the top.

Incidentally, the wicket has appreciable cracks and, if the sun comes out on Tuesday after a day of rest, they may widen and leave open the possibility of 'tricks' being played.

It rained on Sunday night and there was a downpour rather late on Monday as well. The forecast for the next day or two isn't encouraging either and, so, fingers are going to be kept crossed.

As of now, the Indians are expected to field a 2-2 bowling combination, with Ajit Agarkar and Murali Kartik sitting in the dressing room.

However, an extraordinary development could see Kartik coming into contention and, if that happens, Irfan Pathan may be the sole specialist new ball bowler with Sourav having to enact three roles ' captaining, scoring at No.5 and opening the attack...

Somewhat surprisingly, the Australians are thinking of just one specialist spinner (Shane Warne, who else') in their XI. Apparently, the thinktank believes vice-captain Darren Lehmann, Simon Katich and rookie Michael Clarke could adequately play a supportive role.

It's to be seen whether this strategy gets revised in the next 24 hours.

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