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November 5, 2012
Ajit Agarkar, former India bowler and Mumbai Ranji captain, has joined Irfan Pathan as the second quick to miss the second round of Ranji Trophy with injuries sustained during the first round. Baroda's Munaf Patel and Kerala's Sreesanth are already out of action.
Agarkar injured his calf during Mumbai's draw against Railways at the Wankhede Stadium, and the calf is still sore. Rohit Sharma will captain Mumbai in Agarkar's absence. Mumbai's next assignment is an away game against defending champions Rajasthan, starting on Friday. The first-round matches ended on Monday, giving fast bowlers little time to recover.
From the squad that notched three points against Railways, Mumbai will be missing three other big players: centurions Sachin Tendulkar and Ajinkya Rahane, and fast bowler Zaheer Khan. All three are part of the India squad to take on England, and will be present at the team's conditioning camp in Mumbai from November 9 to 11. Mumbai are already missing senior batsman Wasim Jaffer, who is away on Haj pilgrimage.
However, Mumbai will also be reinforced with those players who represented Mumbai A in the tour game against the English around the same time as the first round of Ranji matches. Suryakumar Yadav, Mumbai's leading run-getter and fourth-highest overall with 754 at an average of 69, will be brought in. Also coming back into the side will be young quick Kshemal Waingankar and Hiken Shah, who averaged 58 last season. The other addition to the squad, which has been reduced from 15 to 14, is Shoaib Shaikh, who is yet to make first-class debut.
Like Irfan, Agarkar too came straight from the Champions League T20 in South Africa to play first-class cricket on much less conducive Indian pitches. Irfan, though, played another first-class game in between, against the English at Brabourne Stadium before travelling to play in Baroda the next day. What makes it worse for these fast bowlers is the unforgiving Ranji Trophy schedule. Some of them are being played three days apart, and some provide a gap of four days.
However, Agarkar will find sufficient time to recover before Mumbai's next game as Mumbai will be one of the three teams not playing in the third round. Their next game will start only on November 24, but they will have to play back-to-back games after that.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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