India v Australia, 18th match, Champions Trophy October 28, 2006

Sreesanth replaces injured Agarkar

Cricinfo staff

A hairline fracture to his left thumb has ruled out Ajit Agarkar from India's match against Australia on October 29 © AFP

Sreesanth will replace Ajit Agarkar in the Indian squad for the remainder of the Champions Trophy after Agarkar sustained a hairline fracture on his left thumb during the match against West Indies. Sreesanth will arrive in Mohali - the venue for India's last group stage match against Australia - later this afternoon, and will be available for selection for Sunday's match.

Agarkar apparently suffered the injury trying to stop a full-blooded drive from Runako Morton during Thursday's game. With Munaf Patel also doubtful due to a wrist sprain and RP Singh clearly out of his depth, India face a serious predicament ahead of the Australia game.

The approval to replace Agarkar with Sreesanth was given by the ICC's Technical Committee. The ICC rules clearly prohibit replacement in the course of the tournament if the player concerned had a recent history of injuries. But a replacement is allowed if the injury to the player concerned was totally unforeseen. Agarkar's injury obviously falls in this category, hence permission for the replacement was granted.

Sreesanth, who averages 34.38 from the 19 one-day matches he has played for India, was not picked for the Champions Trophy - a surprise exclusion. His performance in the one-day series in West Indies recently was mediocre - in the three games he played Sreesanth gave away 158 runs for two wickets - but his attitude and willingness to learn were appreciated by the team mangement, which made his omission from the tournament surprising.

Speaking to Cricinfo, Sreesanth admitted that he was pleasantly surprised at being called up, focussing on the season ahead. "Honestly, I couldn't believe it when I heard the news," he said. "I've been training hard, trying to make it to the South African tour, also looking ahead to my next Duleep Trophy game. This comes as a great opportunity for me."

Though his initial omission from the Champions Trophy squad was a setback, Sreesanth said that there was no shortage of motivation, from within and from senior players. He impressed in South Zone's comprehensive win over West Zone in Indore, picking up five wickets.

"I have always beleived in myself," he continued. "The presence of so many senior players like [Anil] Kumble, VVS Laxman in the Duleep Trophy match helped and they kept encouraging me."