Team India players kept a safe distance from the football during training in Dhaka on Wednesday. Yuvraj Singh's ankle injury has forced the team to adopt safety-first tactics ahead of Friday's ICC World Twenty20 semifinal against South Africa. (Also read: How stats back India to beat South Africa)
India's 2011 World Cup hero Yuvraj hurt his ankle while participating in a soccer-only training session in Mirpur (Dhaka) on Wednesday. The players were playing barefoot. Yuvraj already has a troublesome knee and the Indians are clearly sweating over the left-hander's fitness. While the extent of his injury is not known, the team's media manager R.N. Baba said: "Yuvraj had a blow on his left ankle, for precautionary reasons he is taking rest today." Most teams do not reveal the extent of injury to their key players for strategic reasons.
India, of course, are keeping their back-up plans ready. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan were first off the block with their bats at the nets. Usually teams follow the likely batting order while training. India had opted for Ajinkya Rahane in place of Dhawan against Australia. If Yuvraj fails a fitness test, Rahane could be India's No. 4.
Ravindra Jadeja and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had extended practice sessions with the bat but India's main worry will be to choose their seamers. Mohit Sharma may keep his place and Mohammed Shami may warm the bench. Mohit played the Australia match and bowled an impressive 2-0-11-1 spell. Shami, on the contrary, has been expensive and failed to bowled his trademark yorkers when needed. Mohit is also Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings teammate.
It will not be a surprise if India keep faith on the spin troika of Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja. The South Africans have admitted that they are 'scared' of Indian spin and preparing accordingly. On Wednesday, the South Africans even had spin-king Shane Warne advising them for an hour. (Read: Shane Warne 'trains' SA spinners ahead of India clash)
"We know it's going to be a big challenge for us. We want to put up a big performance against their spinners," JP Duminy said. "We know that their spinners will be a key component to their team."
In-form Mishra will be man the South Africans will dread. "He has been on top form for India in this tournament and we definitely not going to take him lightly," Duminy said. "The guys have played against him and we kind of know what to expect." Mishra has been Man of the Match twice in four of India's games. With nine wickets, Mishra is third on the tournament's wicket-taker's list.