India’s optimism suffered a jolt as Zaheer Khan will not be taking the field in the third Test of the India England series at Edgbaston, Birmingham. In fact he will play no further part on the tour of England with an impending surgery to add to his hamstring woes.
Zaheer Khan was seen lightly jogging up to his run up moments after India lost the Trent Bridge Test by 319 runs. While there was the indication that Zaheer Khan was preparing for the third Test, given the nature of his hamstring strain that ruled him out since the first day of the first Test at Lord’s, there was a great deal of speculation not only about whether Zaheer had fully recovered but also, whether there would not the situation of another breakdown on India’s hands. It is something India can ill afford at this stage because they are already 2-0 down in the four Test series and have to win both the remaining Tests if they are to prevent England from winning the series. Besides, there is also the no.1 Test team title to consider and India need to be at full strength which is now obviously not possible.
The indications of it though were present even it was being speculated that Zaheer will join Virender and Gautam Gambhir on the comeback trail. However, further signs of trouble came in India’s two day tour match against Northamptonshire when Zaheer bowled only three overs and went for plenty of runs to suggest that all was not right. Thereafter his walking off the field was like writing on the wall that perhaps the Edgbaston Test would not see India’s spearhead making a return to the Indian playing eleven.
The worst was confirmed by the BCCI themselves who have named R.P. Singh as Zaheer’s replacement. Apparently it is not only the hamstring strain that has come in the way of India bringing Zaheer Khan back into the picture. In addition to the hamstring injury he suffered, Zaheer will have to reportedly undergo an ankle surgery which can only imply a long lay off, which the BCCI also confirmed.
According to the BCCI, the surgery and post rehabilitation will take Zaheer Khan out of action for anywhere between fourteen to sixteen weeks, which means Zaheer has no possibility of returning for the ODI series for which he was named in India’s ODI squad for the England series. That is a bitter blow for Zaheer Khan because it was injury which kept him out of the India’s tour of the West Indies following the IPL 4 season and his return for the England tour was expected to make a strong statement as England have been engaged in a debate of whether they deserved to take over the no.1 Test team tag. With Zaheer proving to be something of a nemesis to Andrew Strauss, his absence is therefore an impediment to India. On the other hand, a half fit Zaheer Khan was an equal risk. Now with the double injury, the decision has been taken out of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s hands. The Indian captain will now have to manoevre his bowling resources with a fair degree of cover since Harbhajan Singh has also been ruled out of the England tour with an abdominal injury.