Zaheer out of second Test at Trent Bridge
Nottingham: India were left grappling with injury worries ahead of the crucial second cricket Test against England with pace spearhead Zaheer Khan being ruled out and opener Gautam Gambhir being rendered a doubtful starter.
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said Zaheer will have to sit out of the game though he has shown huge improvement in his right hamstring strain and was expected to be fit for the third Test.
"As of now Gambhir is doubtful. We will give him some more time. It depends on amount of pain he can go through and still perform," said Dhoni on the eve of the second Test starting on Friday.
Gambhir was hit on his right elbow by a swept shot from Matt Prior in the first Test at Lord`s on Sunday and even though he came on to bat, it is believed that his elbow is still stiff and not 100 per cent fit.
Gambhir, however, did come out to bat in the nets today after missing out completely on it yesterday.
If Gambhir sits out, it would mean an opportunity for Yuvraj Singh to feature in the playing eleven. It would still be a tough call for India to decide on who will partner Abhinav Mukund to open the innings.
Injuries have been an issue for India for sometime and Dhoni rued the fact that it`s been rare when he has been able to field a full-strength team in Test arena.
"As a side, we have constantly faced this problem. Whenever we play, we are not at full strength. It has happened constantly."
India`s batters scored under 300 runs in both innings at Lord`s and Dhoni expected them to show a huge improvement in the second Test.
"It not just an individual. What we need is stands. Partnerships of 50-100 runs really help the innings go along," Dhoni said.
"It`s also important that batsmen convert their starts but it`s not that they don`t try it. Lower half must put a price on their wickets and even 40-60 runs from them is very helpful.
"We have done so in the past and we will come back to give our best," he added.
The 30-year-old cricketer stressed that India needs to do well in the first innings to make a match of it.
"It`s important we do well in first innings. It`s been shown that once a team takes 100-120 runs lead, it becomes a very difficult situation to make a comeback in the match," he said.
India is in danger of losing the status of being world`s number one Test side but Dhoni said he couldn`t be overtly concerned with it.
"If you enjoy the sport, the ratings take care of itself. It`s a constant process, nobody owns number one rankings. How you get there is important and once there, it`s difficult to maintain."
Dhoni acknowledged that his team gets better as a series progresses and are never really at their best at the start of it.
"We have seen our batsmen, bowlers, fielders improve as they get used to conditions," he said.