Dravid out of ODI series following injury
An avulsion fracture on the middle finger of his right hand has ruled Rahul Dravid out of the rest of the one-day series. He will also miss the Twenty20 game on Friday, and the warm-up game for the Test series at Potchefstroom (December 7-10).
He will stay on in South Africa for treatment, and experts expect him to be available for the Test series that starts in Johannesburg on December 15. In his absence, Virender Sehwag will lead the side.
Meanwhile, VVS Laxman has been asked to join the squad in South Africa as replacement for Dravid. "He might or might not play the next ODI but will be available for the Centurion match, which will be preparation for the Tests as well," Venkatapathy Raju, the national selector, told Cricinfo. In South Africa Laxman has played just two matches in October 2001, scoring 15 and 5.
Laxman's experience will complement the resources already available in the form of three specialist batsmen - Wasim Jaffer, Suresh Raina and Dinesh Mongia - who sat out the defeat at Newlands in Cape Town. However, the gap Dravid leaves will be hard to fill given the current travails of the Indian top order and his own consistent perfomance - he has scored two half-centuries and a 49 in India's last five matches.
Dravid sustained the injury while trying to catch Shaun Pollock off the bowling of Harbhajan Singh at first slip. The ball flew off the edge and appeared to snap the finger back. "He does not require surgery, and the injury will be treated conservatively," said Rajan Nair, the Indian team media manager, who also added that John Gloster, the team physio, would be monitoring the situation in consultation with a local expert.
Dravid batted through the pain for 179 minutes on Sunday, scoring 63 from 103 balls as India went down by 106 runs in Cape Town. He was treated on the field during the 38th over, but was taken for an X-ray on Monday morning after he complained of severe pain during the night. India are already 2-0 down in the ODI series, with games remaining at Port Elizabeth on Wednesday and Centurion on Sunday.
Sehwag has captained India before but, significantly, is struggling with his own form; he was out without scoring at Cape Town on Sunday.
Dravid's is the latest injury problem for India on this tour after Sehwag missed the second one-dayer at Durban. Fast bowler Munaf Patel sat out of the third match on Sunday owing to a sore left ankle. Yuvraj Singh, who hurt his knee during the Champions Trophy in late October, was earlier ruled out of the entire ODI series.
Dileep Premachandran is features editor of Cricinfo