December 25, 2002

Tendulkar, Harbhajan, Bangar ruled out of first ODI

Staff Reporter

India have suffered a serious setback as three prominent members of the team have been ruled out of the first one-dayer against New Zealand through injury. When they take the field at Auckland on Boxing Day, India will be without the services of batting star Sachin Tendulkar (sprained ankle), offie Harbhajan Singh (bowling hand) and all-rounder Sanjay Bangar (knee).

Tendulkar complained of pain in his ankle after sending down a few overs in the nets and and team medical staff confirmed the master batsman would definitely miss the Auckland match. It is reported that he picked up the injury when he slipped and fell while bowling.

"Tendulkar had to undergo ice-treatment. He has not regained full fitness and will sit out of the first game," said a team official.

Bangar meanwhile picked up a knee injury during catching practice and Harbhajan has suffered a minor problem with a long-standing problem with his bowling hand.

Indian team physio Andrew Leipus is most concerned about Tendulkar, and is worried that bringing him back for the second one-dayer could cause further damage to the ankle.

"It's quite swollen at the moment but he is able to walk around. It is a positive sign. At the moment he has just got his foot up in the bed," said Leipus.

"It's compressed, it's being iced every two hours and that's all we can do for the next couple of days."

"I will be trying to get him fit before the second game, nothing is certain at the moment. He sprained the lateral ligament of his ankle," added Leipus.

"If necessary, we will rest him in the second game as well."

Leipus described Bangar's knee problem as "mild" but one that still required the all-rounder to rest.

"He went over backwards and dropped the catch and his knee sort of went underneath him," explained Leipus.

"He sprained a ligament in his left knee at that time - it's only a mild injury but he needs to rest."

Meanwhile, the team management were playing down the concern over Harbhajan's hand, manager NR Choudhary describing it as just "some problem" with a "long-standing" injury.

The injuries to the trio will test India's bench strength. The team for the first one-day international will be selected from the following:

India: (from) Sourav Ganguly (captain), Ajit Agarkar, Rahul Dravid, Mohammad Kaif, Zaheer Khan, Anil Kumble, VVS Laxman, Ashish Nehra, Parthiv Patel, Rakesh Patel, Virender Sehwag, Javagal Srinath, Yuvraj Singh.