India v South Africa, Future Cup, Belfast June 27, 2007

India's illness worries pose selection problems

PTI



Half his squad struck down with flu was not something Rahul Dravid had anticipated © Getty Images

The flu virus that laid low more than half of India's squad continues to pose them some difficult selection issues as they prepare for the second one-dayer against South Africa in Belfast on Friday.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, their wicketkeeper who was the first to fall ill, Sreesanth and Ajit Agarkar, both fast bowlers, were the worst affected and missed the opening match on Tuesday. Offspinner Ramesh Powar and left-arm seamer Rudra Pratap Singh were also struck by the virus but did manage to take the field for the first match.

A depleted Indian side went down in a tight game, thwarted by Jacques Kallis's fine 91 in a final-over finish. Rahul Dravid, who chipped in with a fighting 74, admitted after the match that Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and himself were all "feeling a bit down".

Replacement seamers Ishant Sharma, 18, who has played one Test, and Ranadeb Bose, yet to make his debut, had been scheduled to join the Test party later on the tour but were told to reach Belfast on Wednesday, with a view to being available for selection for Friday's match.

Uncapped 28-year-old Baroda pace bowler Rakesh Patel, who has been playing club cricket in Liverpool, was also called up for India's one-day squad on Monday. "The two quicks are quite bad, both Sreesanth and Agarkar," said Dravid. "Dhoni should be OK for the next game but with the flu you never know.

"With Ishant Sharma and Ranadeb Bose landing on Wednesday, we'll hopefully have some cover in the fast bowling department but, then again, they would be off a flight straight away and into a game. It's going to be a tricky one for us."

Meanwhile, India were fined for their slow over-rate in the one-off match against Ireland on June 23. Alan Hurst, the ICC match referee, imposed the fine after India were found to be one over short of the scheduled finish of the Ireland innings. Dravid, as captain, was penalised 10% of his match fee while the rest were docked 5% of their individual match fees.

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