South Africa v India, 2nd ODI, Johannesburg January 15, 2011

Sachin Tendulkar to return home


India have pulled out a win out of nowhere to level the series 1-1, but their task of winning the series has become more difficult with Sachin Tendulkar has become the fourth first-choice player to return to India, joining openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, and fast bowler Praveen Kumar. A hamstring injury has ruled Tendulkar out of the series, and Parthiv Patel, the wicketkeeper-batsman, has been named as his replacement. M Vijay is the only specialist opener in the squad currently in South Africa.

Dhoni is no alien to such circumstances as India have hardly played cricket with their first-choice XIs over the last two years. "We will have to open with someone," he said. "I don't know what's happening, whether we are getting someone from India [as replacement] or not. The visa will take three days at least, he will take the next flight, and by the time he comes here we will have just one match left. I don't know who will open."

Dhoni sounded hopeful that Vijay will find some form. "Vijay is looking a bit out of form, but he's working well in the nets. Form is just a matter of a few strokes. Once you get those few strokes, all of a sudden you feel back in form."

These fitness issues have left Dhoni not demanding too much of his fast bowlers either, with the World Cup just around the corner. He said that right now fitness is more important than form, because there aren't too many choices, especially in the fast-bowling department.

Dhoni said he would need to rotate the fast bowlers in this series because there are a few niggles troubling them. "We will have to see what kind of niggle a bowler is having, and accordingly we will decide," Dhoni said. "Of course right now we don't have too many fast bowlers to choose from when it comes to the one-day side. You have two bowlers outside, Ishant and Sreesanth, who have not played a lot of ODI cricket recently. This series is important, but I don't want any bowler to get an injury just because of over burden. We will try to avoid it because World Cup is big for us, but at the same time this series is important."

Dhoni himself seems to be struggling after getting hit in the shin while keeping. If he becomes unavailable during this series, that will be some trouble because India don't even have a reserve wicketkeeper here.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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  • Rohan on January 19, 2011, 13:01 GMT

    Aditya Das u mst be another of those kolkatans who thinks cricket cnt be played without one player, dude grow up cricket is a team game, kkr will do better without ganguly nd india cn win without sachin

  • Dummy4 on January 19, 2011, 1:21 GMT

    that's bad . no Tendulkar no thrillers no exitement no centuries from India side.

  • Nik on January 18, 2011, 22:16 GMT

    wud be nice if Parthiv replaces Vijay for next odi only. play all world cup guys-nehra included-even if they are failing in this series.

  • Dummy4 on January 18, 2011, 10:10 GMT

    Just pick Irfan Pathan for world cup, because he is very good bowler and late order batsman. That's why I think he is a very good choice for world cup.

  • pagal on January 18, 2011, 6:26 GMT

    i'm shattered n heart broken to find srisanth missing in the final 15 .... even the likes of lillee, alderman, truman, marshal et al got the same treatment at sm pt of time in their resp career's.... dont loose heart sri ... u r the best bowler ever

  • swaroop on January 18, 2011, 2:07 GMT

    @Sumit Agrahari :is that so?what would ganguly have done if thaere was no sachin?he made runs consistently in 2003 wc.yes ganguly was the captain and he was good.but without tendulkar India would have gone nowhere in 2003 wc.his scores respectively in that wc are 52,36,81,152,50,98,5,97,15,83,4.yes its a team effort but sachin has more credit for taking India that long.

  • swaroop on January 18, 2011, 1:48 GMT

    @ farooq16:out of 46 centuries sachin scored India won 33 body except the graet man has scored 33 centuries till date.the remaining 13 include some graet fights from sachin where nobody helped him against aus in hyd,the league match in sharjah where he took us to finals single's more than sachin that we want his century.whole of India wanted to see sachin score a century more than he wants so he slows down a bit but not as u mentioned.just see the tension of the masses when sachin is in 90's whole of India would be glued to thier tv sets.when that much pressure is exerted on your century nd when it makes so many ppl happy u are determined to reach u know that India when India wins sachin has an average of 58 in odi's and it is 32 when India lost.that itself says how dependent are we to this great man.

  • Dummy4 on January 17, 2011, 22:30 GMT

    i dont understand how could icc manage these tours jst b4 world cup. making it hard for players to adjust,look ind,sa, pak, nz aus eng. everyone is playing just less than a month to go for world cup, i think sachin did right thing by going back home and getting atleast some rest.soo poor job done by icc by planning these tours. i dont know what they get pay for.atleast a common man could even think of that.

  • Pavan on January 17, 2011, 16:52 GMT

    Whatever you do dont get zaheer or harbhajan injured. we might as well not play if they get injured.

  • Ashish on January 17, 2011, 14:31 GMT

    India has won the game 33 of the 46 times Sachin has scored a century. How people claim he does not win games for India? @farooq16 - check how many times the "selfish" batting has cost India the game before you declare the great man selfish.

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