A day before India select the squad for the first Test against England, they received two minor injury scares in Ranji Trophy matches.
Virender Sehwag stayed off the field and batted at No. 6 because of a cut on his right index finger, but when he did bat he provided good support to Mithun Manhas in an unbeaten stand for 61 minutes against Uttar Pradesh. Zaheer Khan pulled up sore during his 21st over against Railways in Mumbai, pointed towards his groin, and walked off after a brief chat with two of his team-mates. Both players have 11 days to recover as the first starts on November 15 in Ahmedabad.
Both the players' respective team managements have said that the injuries are nothing to lose sleep over. Vijay Dahiya, Delhi's coach, told ESPNcricinfo that Sehwag's X-ray, done on Saturday, revealed no break. Sehwag, he said, had received "one or two stitches on the cut this morning" and had batted at No. 6 as a precautionary measure. "We wanted to give it as much of a rest as possible in the day" But as Delhi began to run out of specialist batsmen, trying to save a match against Uttar Pradesh, Sehwag put on his gloves and walked out.
With Manhas, Sehwag added 51 for the fifth wicket. He remained unbeaten on 21 off 44 balls, and is expected to bat on the fourth morning.
Mumbai's captain, Ajit Agarkar, told reporters at the end of the day that Zaheer's problem was just a cramp. "He should be okay, he should be on the field tomorrow morning," Agarkar said. "He was just cramping badly. It suddenly got a little humid, the last couple of days, probably dehydrated a little bit."
However, when the incident occurred, Zaheer was just coming back from a five-over period spent off the field. "Sometimes you want to hold back a little bit instead of doing any damage," Agarkar said. So did he stay back after tea because of the cramp? "Obviously, yes," said Agarkar.
Zaheer, who had had a catch dropped off his bowling on the second day, now has figures of 20.5-5-41-1. Agarkar qualified Zaheer's effort as impressive and just the workout that he needed.
The news, when it trickled in, caused plenty of concern among Indian cricket followers because both Sehwag and Zaheer have been a long history of injuries. They both missed large parts of the series when India were whitewashed 4-0 in England last year.