India in Zimbabwe 2005 September 8, 2005

Back injury forces Nehra out of Test series

Cricinfo staff

Ashish Nehra: fitness problems continue © Getty Images

Ashish Nehra, the Indian medium-pacer, is returning home after being forced out of the Test series against Zimbabwe because of a back problem. Ajit Agarkar will be Nehra's replacement for the two-Test series, beginning on September 13.

"Nehra has that niggle on his buttock again," said John Gloster, the India physio. "He felt he would not be able to complete two Tests so the management took a decision." Nehra will spend three days in South Africa, en route to India, where he will undergo rehabilitation work with experts.

"It is in his best interest for rehabilitation and getting alright for the Sri Lanka series," added Gloster. "What it means is that it gives us a longer period of time for him to get on top of it. We've now got a nice window of five or six weeks before the Sri Lanka series when he really can get on top of it. He has to exercise and improve strength in those areas. But he should be alright for the Sri Lanka series," he explained.

Ajit Agarkar, who was on his way back to India after the end of the one-day series, had to disembark enroute at Johannesburg. "We still have to sort out a couple of things: one his luggage is pulled out from the aircraft and two, he is allowed back in Harare since he was carrying only a single entry visa," said Amitabh Chowdhary, the Indian team's manager.

Harbhajan Singh, the Indian offspinner, had complained of stomach trouble and did not arrive with the rest of the squad to the Mutare Sports Club where Indians began their three-day game against Zimbabwe Board President's XI.

Gloster also sounded positive about Sachin Tendulkar's recovery after undergoing surgery for a tennis elbow: "I spoke to him only yesterday. He is doing well with the strength work and looking to start batting properly on 14th or 15th. That is the loose plan at the moment," said Gloster. "Strength is the most important component. He is the best judge of how he feels in terms of strength. I have to leave that for him, me being here and he being there. But I am more than confident of his appraisal of his situation."