Zaheer Khan, the India fast bowler, has been ruled out of the remainder of the series against England. He will return to India and will be replaced by left-arm seamer RP Singh. Zaheer picked up a hamstring injury during the first Test at Lord’s, but the BCCI has now said he not only has a recurring hamstring problem but also a right ankle impingement that will require surgery, followed by a 14-16 week period of rehabilitation. He had been withdrawn from the squad for India’s recent Test series in the West Indies due to a right ankle injury.
Zaheer’s problems in this series began on the very first day of the series, when he pulled up midway through his 14th over in the first innings at Lord’s. The team management indicated Zaheer could be ready to bowl in the second innings, but he was unable to do so and was ruled out of the second Test at Trent Bridge. There were expectations he would return for the Edgbaston Test but he only got through three overs in the Indians’ warm-up match in Northampton, and has now been pulled out of the squad.
Since the first Test, Zaheer had been through light training sessions, and there had been indications from the India camp that he would take part at some stage in the series, which only grew stronger when he was named in the side for the tour game against Northamptonshire. However, he left the field after bowling just three overs.
India had also named Zaheer in the squad for the limited-over matches in England, but he will miss those as well, with RP Singh taking his place. RP Singh has not played for India since 2009, with his last Test coming during India’s home series against South Africa in 2008. He was part of India’s squad when they last toured England for a full series in 2007. India won the three-Test series 1-0, and RP Singh was the third-highest wicket-taker with 12 wickets at an average of 28.91, behind Anil Kumble and Zaheer.
He followed up the tour of England with 13 wickets on India’s tour of Australia in 2007-08, but then went wicketless in India’s two home Tests against South Africa. His form in ODIs also took a dip; he took three wickets in ten bowling innings from August 2008 to when he was dropped in September 2009, and went for more than six runs an over in eight of those innings. His recent figures in domestic cricket don’t make great reading either. In the last two Ranji Trophy seasons he has averaged 31.55, and has been behind several other seamers in the wicket-taking charts. One format in which he has excelled though has been the Twenty20 format; he is the leading wicket-taker in IPLs.
India have now lost three players from their original squad; Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh were withdrawn after sustaining a stomach and finger injury respectively during the Trent Bridge Test. Zaheer’s injury though has been the biggest setback for the visitors. Even as he was hobbling off at Lord’s, predictions for the series started to swing dramatically in England’s favour. His absence from the next two Tests leaves India with an inexperienced bowling attack, with the 22-year-old Ishant Sharma the most-capped of all the bowlers left in the Test squad.