Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth have been ruled out of the Test series against West Indies, further weakening an Indian squad already missing several first-choice players. Zaheer has a right ankle problem, Sreesanth has a right elbow problem and both are undergoing rehabilitation. Medium-pacers Abhimanyu Mithun and Praveen Kumar have been named as their replacements in the Test squad.
Shoulder injuries to Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir had forced the selectors to opt for a pair of inexperienced openers in M Vijay and the uncapped Abhinav Mukund. Sachin Tendulkar wanted to spend some time with his family and opted out of the tour as well.
While the batting was hit hard by these withdrawals, the bowling initially had a stronger look with Zaheer – who skipped the limited-overs leg of the tour – expected to lead a full-strength attack in the Caribbean. His and Sreesanth’s absence will now add further fuel to the debate on the impact of a cramped IPL schedule on the Indian team.
Zaheer’s long-standing struggle with various injuries have caused him to miss games regularly. A shoulder injury made him miss India’s tour of Sri Lanka last year, and he was forced to sit out of Tests against New Zealand and South Africa due to groin and hamstring strains.
Sreesanth hasn’t been far behind on the injured list, returning home last year from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka after damaging his thigh and knee.
It has taken the absence of the first-choice bowlers again for Mithun to make a return after impressing during his debut Test series in Sri Lanka last year. He was ignored for the South Africa tour that followed, with the selectors opting for Umesh Yadav and Jaidev Unadkat.
Praveen, who is currently playing the ODI series in West Indies, is a regular for India in the limited-overs format. He has played 50 one-dayers but is yet to play a Test.
The Test squad was expected to leave for the West Indies on Sunday, June 12, but the departure has now been delayed.