Injury cloud over India ahead of series opener

VADODARA: Injury doubts over captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and explosive batsman uvraj Singh hit India’s preparations ahead of the first one-dayer against Australia here on Sunday.

Dhoni limped off the ground after hurting his left knee during practice on Friday while Yuvraj was yet to recover fully from a finger injury that kept him out of the Champions Trophy in South Africa in September-October. Dhoni stopped short of ruling out Yuvraj for the opening game while also refusing to confirm his availability. “I am feeling a lot better now but I will see how it goes on the morning of the match,” Dhoni told a pre-match media conference on Saturday.

“As for Yuvraj, all I can say is that he will surely be available for the second match,” he said. “Most guys are carrying small niggles but there is nothing major. You can’t do much when someone gets injured while batting or bowling during practice sessions, which are so intense.”

The injuries increase the home team’s troubles, sulking after a

first-round exit from the Champions Trophy.

Dhoni is the only specialist wicketkeeper in the 15-member Indian squad with the selectors opting to leave aside Dinesh Karthik, who was the back up keeper for the Champions Trophy. India will however be strengthened by the return of aggressive opener Virender Sehwag, who missed the action in South Africa with a shoulder injury.

Australia, in prime form after winning a second successive Champions Trophy, have also

been hit by injuries to leading players. Key middle-order batsman Michael Clarke (back), first choice wicketkeeper Brad Haddin (finger) and left-arm paceman Nathan Bracken (knee) have all been forced to follow the action from the sidelines. The second match will be played in the western city of Nagpur on October 28.