Mithun to miss first Test, Munaf doubtful
Abhimanyu Mithun will not be available for the first West Indies-India Test that begins on June 20 in Jamaica, due to visa issues. He is expected to arrive in the Caribbean only on June 20. Mithun and Praveen Kumar - who is already in Jamaica, since he was a part of the limited-overs squad - were drafted into the Test squad as replacements for the injured Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth.
Adding to India's issues on the fast-bowling front, medium-pacer Munaf Patel, who missed the last two ODIs against West Indies, did not bowl during a training session on Friday, leading to speculation over his fitness and availability for the Test. Though Munaf did bowl during Saturday's training session, his stint lasted for about 10 deliveries.
There were more anxious moments for India when opener M Vijay got hit on his left hand on by a delivery from left-arm fast bowler Sheldon Cotterell, who plays for Jamaica. Vijay was treated by the physio and later went for an x-ray.
India captain MS Dhoni said the team would take a call over the availability of Munaf and Vijay on Sunday. "We will see," he said, "we have two more days. So we will take a call. Munaf has problem with his elbow and Vijay has gone for x-ray as his fore finger got injured. We will know result maybe in evening or sometime tomorrow.
"The first preference [to open the batting] goes to Vijay and Abhinav Mukund. If something happens Parthiv Patel is there to open the innings."
Friday's training session at Sabina Park was also a first for Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, MS Dhoni, Pragyan Ojha, M Vijay and Mukund, who have joined the Test squad. The batsmen had extended knocks in the nets and Dravid also had a long chat with Fletcher. Dravid had two batting sessions: first against the bowlers, and then to throw downs from fielding coach Trevor Penney.
"It was just a general conversation," Dravid said, of his interaction with Fletcher. "The one-day team has spent time with him and now the guys who have come for the Tests will get some time.
"Fletcher is someone who has been in the cricket world for long. He has played first-class cricket, played for his country and coached national sides," Dravid said. "So it will be interesting talking to him about his experiences, about the players he played with and coached. All the players, especially batsmen like Jacques Kallis, rate him very high."
As the Indians practiced in the late afternoon, the groundstaff were watering and rolling the pitch. The surface looked shiny and gleamed. There was some grass on it. Charles Josephs, the curator, said there will be pace and bounce.
Dravid said the pitch at Sabina Park always had some bounce and it would be a good Test match. "It's generally got good bounce from my experience, apart from the first Test I played here," he said. "And it's going to be a good challenge. They have a good pace attack. And whatever said and done, on wickets that are going to suit them, their attack is going be quite a handful.
"It's going to be a good test for all of us, not only the younger members of the team. And hopefully we also have the bowling to knock them over. So, if they prepare a wicket that is good for fast bowling, we have got some quick guys who can make a difference."
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo