Dhoni upbeat despite Zaheer absence
Mahendra Singh Dhoni appeared to be indulging in some resolute ’blue-sky thinking’ when he described Zaheer Khan’s absence from the second npower Test as a “win-win situation” for India.
The tourists’ captain delivered confirmation at Trent Bridge this afternoon that the left-arm seamer - who recorded a match-winning nine-wicket haul on his last Test visit to this venue four years ago - has failed to recover in time from the hamstring injury he suffered at Lord’s last week.
Dhoni wasted no time, though, turning that evident setback into a ‘positive’ - by way of some inventive reasoning.
“It’s a bit disappointing not to have him for selection,” he said.
“But it is something that is beyond our control, and it gives a chance to the other bowlers to prove their mettle when it comes to international cricket. Overall, it’s a win-win situation for the Indian team.”
Whatever the merits of that leap of logic, it is clear Dhoni will not be allowing his team to dwell on their misfortune.
Gautam Gambhir is another doubt to take part tomorrow, still struggling to recover from the elbow he hurt in India’s first-Test defeat.
Dhoni is already busy working out contingency plans which will entail either Sreesanth or Munaf Patel replacing Zaheer and - if Gambhir is unfit too - Yuvraj Singh being drafted into the middle order, and Rahul Dravid pushed up to open again.
“We can’t really sit and say ’Zaheer is not there’,” he continued.
“We have to look at the positive, which is some of the other bowlers will get to have a look at international cricket.
“It’s something we have constantly faced. I don’t know when was the last time we played at full strength in the longer format.
“But let’s look at the positive side. It will give a chance for someone to become a hero. That’s what you want to do when you are playing for your country.”
As for Gambhir, who struggled through an unconvincing net this afternoon, he said: “We’ll give him some time, and see how he goes through the net sessions.
“He’s the only person who can judge the right amount of pain he can go through and still be able to perform.”
If Sreesanth does replace Zaheer, his presence will add extra spice with a reminder of the last Test these teams played here - a bad-tempered contest in which the then 24-year-old fast bowler was fined half his match fee for a series of indiscretions.
“I think he has changed over a period of time. The more he has played the better he has got,” Dhoni said of Sreesanth.
“That was four years ago, and I hope we can keep the controversies away.
“I hope it will be a much calmer Test match, for the players and the match referee.”
Dhoni does not, however, rule out some verbals between two of the the world’s top Test teams - as long as it does not get out of hand.
“A bit of chit-chat goes around,” said the wicketkeeper-batsman.
“You have a few boundaries or limitations or guidelines that need to be followed - but if you are within that line, it’s fair enough.
“That’s what makes cricket more interesting. As long as nobody gets personal, it’s okay”