Following Zaheer Khan's withdrawal, the Indian squad in Sri Lanka has been hit by another injury crisis with fast bowler Sreesanth returning home due to a knee injury. He suffered a medial collateral ligament tear in his left knee and has been declared unfit to take part in the Tests. Munaf Patel, who last made an international appearance in November 2009, has been named his replacement.
Sreesanth's availability was in doubt yesterday when he missed the team's first net session on tour. His team-mate Harbhajan Singh too missed practice as he was down with fever. Though India flew down two rookie bowlers in Umesh Yadav and Jaidev Unadkat to practice with the team, the team management has anyway decided to to call in Munaf for Sreesanth.
Munaf and Abhimanyu Mithun, who replaced Zaheer, are likely to compete for a place in the XI as Ishant Sharma's seam bowling partner for the first Test starting July 18. Earlier, Zaheer pulled out of the tour due to a shoulder injury. The loss of the seam duo will stretch India's fast bowling reserves even further because that's the one department in which they have been found wanting in recent months.
Sreesanth checked into the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore on Tuesday for an assessment of the injury to his knee. He was examined by the physio Ashish Kaushik and is likely to undergo his rehabilitation process at the academy for a few more days. "I just bowled seven balls there in Sri Lanka! What to do. That's how it goes, I guess," Sreesanth said.