Test specialists to undergo routine tests at NCA March 6, 2008

Zaheer doubtful for first South Africa Test

While Rahul Dravid is expected to be fit for the first Test, Zaheer Khan might struggle to make it © Getty Images

Zaheer Khan, India's left-arm seamer who is currently recovering from injury, is unlikely to be fit for India's first Test against South Africa, starting on March 26 in Chennai.

India's Test specialists are set to undergo routine fitness tests over the next few days but Zaheer isn't part of the list, it's learnt. Sources have indicated that it's not clear yet if he would be available for any part of the series.

"He is currently in South Africa," board secretary Niranjan Shah told Cricinfo. "And we will know the status of the injury in a day or two." Zaheer is currently undergoing rehabilitation at the Centre for Sports Medicine in Johannesburg.

Zaheer injured his left heel on the eve of the Sydney Test in early January. It was the same injury that sustained during the third Test against Pakistan in Bangalore a month earlier.

Meanwhile RP Singh, the other injured left-arm seamer, will undergo a fitness test at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore on Friday and Saturday. He had injured his hamstring during the final Test in Adelaide and missed the entire CB Series. RP played a couple of Ranji one-day matches for Uttar Pradesh recently - taking two wickets in each and making good contributions with the bat too.

Rahul Dravid was the other injury concern - having damaged his finger during the Adelaide Test - but is expected to be fit for selection. He skipped the South zone Ranji ODI tournament (because he was still in pain) but began training a couple of days ago. He is expected to play a couple of Deodhar Trophy matches for South Zone before the first Test against South Africa in Chennai.

Meanwhile India's Test specialists are set to undergo routine tests at the NCA over the next three days. This follows a BCCI policy to have periodic check-ups prior to all selections for players who have been out of action. VVS Laxman, Wasim Jaffer, Sourav Ganguly, Dravid, VRV Singh, Pankaj Singh and Anil Kumble haven't been part of the side since the Adelaide Test and will need to go through the paces before their names are cleared for selection.

They will undergo tests under Paul Chapman, the trainer at the NCA, Paul Close, the physiotherapist, and Dav Whatmore. The NCA will in turn forward the reports to the board on Saturday.

The squad for the first Test will be picked on Sunday in Mumbai.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo