India tour of South Africa 2010-11 January 11, 2011

Injured elbow ends Praveen Kumar's tour

ESPNcricinfo staff

The ODI series is yet to begin, but Praveen Kumar has become India's third first-choice ODI player to board a flight back home. Praveen has an elbow injury that can't be risked, keeping in mind the proximity of the World Cup, and Ishant Sharma, who must have barely reached India, is coming back as his replacement.

Praveen joins openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir on the injured list. Sehwag's return to India was announced during the Test series, but he stayed back to take part in the deciding Test, in Cape Town. It was a precautionary move to not risk his shoulder before the big event. Gambhir, who missed the second Test with a hand injury, was hit in the elbow during the third Test. He fought the pain to help India save the Test, but had to miss the ODIs.

Praveen, who last played an international match in December 2010 before coming here, is an important part of the Indian team for the World Cup, and hence the team management didn't want to take chances. "With the World Cup also in place, we don't want to risk him," MS Dhoni said. "He has been a very good bowler, irrespective of the conditions, whether we are playing in India or abroad, he has done well for us."

India have grappled continuously with fitness problems over the last two years, wherein they haven't played their first-choice ODI XI since their tour of New Zealand in 2008-09. "It would have been good to feature the main XI," Dhoni said. "Since last February, we haven't played the full XI that will maybe feature in the first game of the World Cup. But we are risking injury. We have to save quite a few players. We have a fair amount of niggles. We don't want to miss any of he key players just before the start of the World Cup. Some of them have missed the whole season. I don't mind them missing one more series as long as they are available right through the World Cup."