Doubts remain over Zaheer Khan's fitness
India looked a side at comfort with itself during their first full practice session with the whole squad for the Tests, but there was cause for concern with Zaheer Khan choosing to go through just fitness drills due to what seems like a hamstring injury. ESPNcricinfo understands that the scans have failed to pick anything, but neither Zaheer nor the team wants to risk aggravating the injury.
"As of now he is not [fit]," a team source told ESPNcricinfo. "There are still three days to go to the Test, so we didn't want to take any risks." So, even as the rest of the team had a good workout in the nets at the Supersport Park in Centurion, Zaheer spent time with Paul Close, the team physio. He went through the light fitness drill gingerly, often holding on to the groin area.
It could be an injury picked up during the fourth ODI against New Zealand, in Bangalore. As he finished the 49th over of the New Zealand innings - only his eighth in the match - Zaheer went back holding on to the groin area. Then Zaheer was making a comeback from a groin injury that had him miss the third Test and the first two ODIs against New Zealand. He also didn't feature in the fifth and final ODI in Chennai.
This hasn't been a good year for Zaheer's body. He missed the whole of the tour of Sri Lanka with an injury to the same shoulder that was operated on two years ago. He started his comeback through the Champions League Twenty20 in South Africa and did well in the home Tests against Australia before getting injured again.
The team is hopeful Zaheer will make it to the first Test starting Thursday, but, should he be ruled out, India have Umesh Yadav and Jaydev Unadkat to choose from - unless they want to go with two spinners, in which case Pragyan Ojha will come in.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo