Mumbai: Who said things couldn't get worse for the Indian cricket team on the injury front?
On Wednesday, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh were ruled out for the rest of the four-Test series in England through abdominal and hand injuries respectively.
India's litany of woes continue after Virender Sehwag was ruled out for the initial part of the tour due to a shoulder operation. Not long after the Lord's Test started, Zaheer Khan pulled a hamstring and has yet to return to the field. In the second Test at Trent Bridge which came after the 196-run caning at Lord's, Gautam Gambhir could not be fit enough to be in the playing XI due to an injury suffered on his elbow in the latter half of the Lord's Test.
Has India had a more frustrating recent tour is a question which will not get many affirmative responses. Down (2-0) and out they probably are.
The BCCI announced that replacements, batsman Virat Kohli and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, but in all probability Amit Mishra, despite not hitting the high notes in the warm-up game against Somerset, will get the nod.
Former Pakistan captain Mushtaq Mohammad, a leg-spinner himself, told MiD DAY on Wednesday from his home in Birmingham that a leg-spinner would be ideal as against playing an off-spinner. "You have got to give Mishra a chance now. He is fresh and hungry to do well. The leggie will be good against the English fellas rather than the offie," said Mushtaq, who spoke to MiD DAY before the news of Harbhajan's absence was made official.
Yuvraj fractured his left index finger on Day Four at Nottingham while tackling a bouncer from Tim Bresnan. In the end, finally, another bouncer from the Yorkshireman dismissed him.
Harbhajan's Grade I abdominal muscle strain means he cannot play his 100th Test at the Oval.
Mushtaq watched the Lord's Test with his younger brother Sadiq and followed the Nottingham Test on television. "India's bowlers look tired. They have played too much cricket... unimportant cricket with the Indian Premier League and all that. The human body can take only so much. I can understand that the boys are playing IPL because of the money, but then, if you want to play for your country, you have to be 100 per cent fit. The Indian cricketers looked tired -- physically and mentally," said the 67-year-old former all-rounder, who played for Northamptonshire, the team Mahendra Singh Dhoni & Co have to tackle in a two-day fixture here tomorrow.
Mushtaq added: "The bowlers fared well in the initial stages of both Tests, but they couldn't continue in that vein because they got tired. The batsmen did not respond to the challenge too. Rahul Dravid is among the runs, but Sachin Tendulkar doesn't look in good form. He must fire now. India must put 400 plus runs in the first innings of the Edgbaston match to have any sort of grip on this England team. India should bat first considering their world-class batting order.
"While the fast bowlers appear fatigued, Harbhajan looked uninterested. There are a lot of things wrong, but it boils down to too much cricket before coming to England."