Bombay: India's cricket selectors, meeting here on Tuesday to name the Test squad for a tough three-match series in South Africa, are struggling to find a solid pair of opening batsmen.
The withdrawal of specialist opener Sadagopan Ramesh because of a back injury means India will have to rely on a newcomer to open the innings with Shiv Das against one of the strongest attacks in the world. "He (Ramesh) has informed us that he is not fit for the South African tour," Board of Control for India (BCCI) secretary Niranjan Shah said. The 26-year-old Ramesh said he had not fully recovered from the back injury sustained during Test series in Sri Lanka in August. "I had to take this decision to stay out after what the doctors said," said the stylish Tamil Nadu left-hander, who averages 37.97 in 19 Tests. "Missing a series won't be as bad as missing cricket for ever. I would like to be fully fit and not play by taking a pain-killer." Shah said the Board would conduct fitness tests on left-arm fast bowlers Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra, who were last month declared unfit for the current triangular One- day series also featuring Kenya. The selectors are also expected to name a replacement for wicket-keeper Deep Dasgupta, who has been unimpressive in the One-day series. Skipper Sourav Ganguly demanded a wicket-keeper who could bat. Dasgupta has failed as a batsman in One-dayers, scoring 51 in five innings with a best of 24 not out. The selectors may either recall veteran Nayan Mongia or the equally experienced Sameer Dighe, or opt for the promising but untested Ajay Ratra of Haryana. India will play the three Tests at Bloemfontein (November 3 to 7), Port Elizabeth (November 16 to 20) and Centurion Park, Pretoria (November 23 to 27).
| Copyright AFP 2001 |