Nehra claims he is fully fit, gets Ganguly's backing

Published: Friday, September 21, 2001, 3:29 [IST]
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New Delhi: Speedster Ashish Nehra on Thursday asserted that he had recovered from his groin injury and was fully fit even as the selection committee reportedly started looking for a replacement for him in the squad for the triangular One-day series in South Africa.Nehra, who was declared unfit by sports medicine expert Dr Anant Joshi, said he was not experiencing any pain and expressed confidence of clearing the fitness test, arranged for the entire South-Africa bound Indian team, in Mumbai on Saturday and Sunday. "I am fully fit. I am experiencing no pain whatsoever and I am sure of clearing the fitness test in Mumbai," Nehra said. After watching the bowler in action at the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai, Joshi had informed BCCI secretary Jayawant Lele that Nehra was not totally fit and was unable to give his hundred per cent. However, Nehra said it takes about a week to 10 days for a person to bowl at full throttle after returning from injury. "It was just three days, since I resumed bowling, then (in Chennai). I am practising hard and I will prove my fitness in Mumbai," he said. Meanwhile, captain Saurav Ganguly rallied behind Nehra and said it was premature to discuss fitness issues as the entire squad was to undergo tests in Mumbai before the trip. "Let the experts give their ruling on the subject. Let's not pre-empt things," Ganguly told reporters after a strenuous practice session in Kolkata. Ganguly said Nehra had spoken to him over phone a few days ago to report that he was all right. "So far as I am concerned, Nehra is fit and going to South Africa. He spoke to me only a few days back and said he was quite all right," Ganguly said. "I am not aware of any later development that might have forced him to think otherwise", the captain added. But BCCI sources maintained that Nehra had failed the fitness test and the selectors were looking for a replacement. Ajit Agarkar and Debashish Mohanty are the frontrunners to take Nehra's place, though Rakesh Patel, who along with Agarkar is in Nairobi participating in a triangular Limited Overs tournament, has also been summoned for the fitness tests. The sources expressed concern over players concealing their injuries. "If Nehra takes pain killers and injections before taking the test in Mumbai, only God can help the team," they said. There were instances of cricketers concealing their injuries before the start of a tour and then reporting sick as though they were injured while at practice or otherwise, they said.

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