India suffered a setback on the eve of the second Test, which will commence at the Wankhede Stadium here on Friday, with Umesh Yadav’s unavailability due to a lower back ailment.
Captain M.S. Dhoni confirmed Yadav’s problem at a press conference on Thursday and said it was not worth taking the risk of playing him when India has a long home season ahead, with Australia set to play four Tests after the England series.
There was no news from the BCCI about the severity of the injury, but it is speculated that Ishant Sharma will replace him in the playing eleven. Bengal seamer Ashoke Dinda, who was named cover for Ishant Sharma (down with viral fever in the first Test), is also in the squad.
Pitch in focus
This has been a series in which the quality of the pitch and tactics have been in focus. Dhoni has been in the vanguard of canvassing for designer pitches that will afford assistance to his spinners. Dhiraj Parsana managed to create such a wicket, though R. Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha toiled and sent down close to 150 overs for the home team to win the first Test at Ahmedabad.
It appears that the Wankhede pitch too will offer assistance to the spinners in a big way. On Thursday, after the ground staff had worked for some time, shades of green almost disappeared from the centre pitch. This has been the routine followed by ground staff employed by the Mumbai Cricket Association for almost three-and-a-half decades.
The Wankhede pitch has been fair to all kinds of bowlers, with the spinners ahead with 362 wickets as against the pacemen’s 274 in the 22 Tests played here so far.
“He (Harbhajan) has to wait for the next match since we have to play with a two-two combination. Sometimes one has to wait for the right time, especially when Ojha and Ashwin are bowling really well. With regard to Ishant’s selection, we have to wait till tomorrow,” said Dhoni.
The upbeat home team had a workout on Thursday with Yuvraj Singh opting to have a long session. He was the first to take a hit at the nets and was followed by Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli.
Panesar to play
England opted to train under the blazing sun. Left-arm spinner Monty Panesar is deemed to be a certainty.
“If you look at our dressing room there are some world class players with excellent records. We have to hold our hands up and say that in these conditions we have not played well enough to get the right results. There is no one else to blame,” said England skipper Alastair Cook.
“You watch how hard we train and we’re definitely doing the right things. It’s up to us to do the job out in the middle and get into the rhythm of batting and try to put runs on the board. I’m confident about the squad.
“There are players in this squad who have scored hundreds in sub-continental conditions.
“The youngsters haven’t had too much experience in these parts.
“But it’s the opportunity for them now to do well. But if we have to win this game, we have to score runs,” said a determined Cook.
The teams (from):
India: M.S. Dhoni (captain), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Cheteshwar Pujara, R. Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Ashoke Dinda, Murali Vijay, Ishant Sharma.
England: Alastair Cook (captain), Nick Compton, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Monty Panesar, Tim Bresnan, Eoin Morgan, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Graham Onions, Samit Patel, Stuart Meaker.
Umpires: Aleem Dar and Tony Hill; Third umpire: Sudhir Asnani; Match Referee: Roshan Mahanama.