Former Indian player Sanjay Manjrekar has criticized India’s approach towards preparing players ahead of a long tour. The case of Zaheer Khan was cited as an example as the player bowled just 18 overs in the first Test against England at Lord’s and pulled out because of a hamstring injury.
Zaheer had last played in the Indian Premier League before bowling in the tour game against Somerset. He missed the West Indies tour because of an ankle injury. However he bowled just 20 overs in that game against Somerset and did not bowl in the second innings as a precaution. His injury wrecked the Indian chances of winning the game after being in a very good position on the opening day.
Manjrekar criticized the Indian team management for assuming that such limited practice was enough for a player to play in a very important game in challenging conditions. However, Zaheer Khan wasn’t the only player to play in that game with limited game time. Gautam Gambhir and Sachin Tendulkar, too, missed the West Indies tour and looked out of touch in the Test match.
This loss will have widespread ramifications if India do not manage to come back in the series. The Indian Premier League’s hectic schedule will be questioned and the age old debate in football that is club v country will enter cricket.
India have already lost Virendar Sehwag to a shoulder injury. He played for most part of the IPL before finally deciding to get a surgery done to get ready in time for the Test at Lord’s. However, that has not happened and he is likely to miss at least another Test and when he comes in will be out of match practice. Gambhir played through the IPL with an injured shoulder and looked very rusty in this game.
The players who played in the West Indies tour were the ones who looked comfortable playing the Test format. Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar bowled well while Abhinav Mukund, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Suresh Raina batted in admirable fashion.
However, India have always been slow starters in foreign soil. But this England team is one of the best in English conditions and will be very hard to beat. In 2007, the last time India were here, the draw in the first match from a losing position gave them the momentum going into the next game, which they won.
However, its England who have the momentum now India will need to be very attacking at Trent Bridge.