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Abhinav upbeat despite Zaheer doubts

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Zaheer Khan

Zaheer Khan, left, who was injured at Lord's, is restricted to jogging at Trent Bridge this morning. An India spokesman revealed: “He is improving.”

Abhinav Mukund is confident India will be a match for England in the second npower Test at Trent Bridge - with or without the presence of talismanic seamer Zaheer Khan.

Zaheer undertook only a light jog around the ground this morning, while his team-mates held a full practice session, as he tries to recover from the hamstring strain which stopped him bowling in the second innings of the tourists’ opening 196-run defeat at Lord’s.

A team spokesman conveyed that Zaheer’s condition is “improving considerably” and a decision on his fitness for Friday will be made tomorrow evening.

But young opening batsman Abhinav believes India have enough cover in their bowling department to prosper without the left-armer.

“He’s been our strike bowler for a long time,” said Abhinav. “But Ishant (Sharma) has been doing really well - he was the man of the series in the West Indies - and Praveen Kumar has taken five wickets (at Lord’s).

“Sreesanth is waiting in the wings as well, so it’s not that we have a depleted attack. It’s just that when you lose a fast bowler during a game it’s a completely different scenario.”

Abhinav himself has been asked to open in place of Virender Sehwag, while India’s master blaster continues his recovery from shoulder surgery, and the 21-year-old left-hander responded at Lord’s with scores of 49 and 12 in only his fourth Test.

“If you’re looking at me to replace a person like Virender Sehwag, he’s one of the greatest ever India openers - so they are going to be big boots to fill,” he said.

“What I want to do is play my own game. I don’t want to replace Sehwag or play like he does, because it’s not possible. I just want to go out and play how I know. If it comes off it will help the team.”

Abhinav impressed some sound judges at HQ, but knows more is required - of him and his team-mates.

“I was very disappointed I couldn’t carry on and make a big score,” he said. “But I was batting well, and am looking to take that confidence into this next Test.

“We were all disappointed. But there are a lot of good things we can take from that match, and move on. Being the world number one, the India team has conquered a lot of challenges on the way here.

“We’ve come here to take up this challenge, and will definitely give it a good fight.”

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