| Munaf Patel
New Delhi: An unusually subdued Sreesanth greeted India’s newest Test captain, Anil Kumble, at the team hotel on Tuesday afternoon.
That was just before leaving for the first practice session ahead of the three-Test series against Pakistan, which begins on Thursday.
Within an hour or two it became clear why Sreesanth had been so: He has a sore right shoulder and is out of the first match.
Sreesanth, incidentally, didn’t bowl during the nets at the Kotla.
By the evening, another medium-pacer — Rudra Pratap Singh — was out of the reckoning. Rudra Pratap has a strain on the right side.
It’s a blow for sure.
The selectors, by the way, named only one replacement — Munaf Patel, who is himself so injury prone. Munaf, whose last Test was in Cape Town at the start of the year, will thus be making a comeback in a couple of days.
Internally, there must have been a communication gap, for when The Telegraph asked Rudra Pratap to elaborate on his injury, he replied: “Abhi kya bolen' Kal tak dekhte hain…”
Well, Rudra Pratap had to be told that the Board had already declared him unfit for the opening Test.
While Zaheer Khan and Munaf are going to open the bowling, Kumble and Harbhajan Singh will be the specialist spinners.
Assuming that Mahendra Singh Dhoni is available for selection, the following are expected to take the first seven berths — Wasim Jaffer, Dinesh Karthik, Rahul Dravid (who looked relaxed throughout the day), Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, V.V.S. Laxman and Dhoni himself.
Of course, there’s a debate over including the in-form Yuvraj Singh and the selectors may leave this tricky issue for Kumble to decide.
If former India allrounder Manoj Prabhakar, who is Delhi’s bowling coach, had a say then he would pick Yuvraj.
“He’s faced the Pakistani bowlers over the past few weeks and has been among the runs in a big way… Plus, he’s the one for the future, not Laxman… If you won’t play Yuvraj when he’s scoring, then when will you do so'”
According to Prabhakar, the present-day new-ball bowlers should learn the art of staying fit from ex-captain Kapil Dev, with whom he fell out during the match-fixing controversy.
“They need to get tips on how to avoid injuries… At the highest level, Kapil was around for 16 years, something remarkable… I taught him the reverse swing (on the 1989-90 tour of Pakistan), but he taught me to stay fit,” Prabhakar said.
Sadly, where the Board is concerned, Kapil is persona non grata.