Bangalore, Feb 8 : PraveenKumar’s World Cup hopes lay in tatters after he failed a fitness test at the National Cricket Academy here on Monday morning. He has been advised six weeks’ rest.
The Uttar Pradesh medium-pacer, a key figure in India’s plans, aggravated an elbow injury not long after arriving in South Africa with the limited-overs side early last month.
With his recovery not progressing along expected lines, it is all but certain that the 24-year-old will miss the World Cup, though there was no official word from the Board of Control for Cricket in India. At the fitness test, Praveen was unable to do all that he was asked to by the trainer and the physio. He later left Bangalore for Delhi in the evening, a significant development considering that the Indian team’s preparatory camp for the World Cup begins in the City on Wednesday.
The BCCI will now write to the International Cricket Council asking for a replacement which, from all indications, will be Kerala paceman S Sreesanth. Sreesanth had a routine fitness test at the NCA a little after Praveen left the premises, the selection panel and the team management perhaps wanting to make absolutely certain that he is in good physical shape before recommending his name as replacement pending ratification by the ICC’s technical committee.
Praveen played the lone T20 international in South Africa on January 9 and was almost immediately ruled out of the five-match one-day series. On his return to India, he recuperated at the NCA under the care of physio Nitin Patel, but by last week, it was apparent that he was in a serious race against time. Praveen flew out to England to meet Dr Andrew Wallace, who had also treated Sachin Tendulkar’s tennis elbow, for consultation, and returned to the NCA the following day, armed with the doctor’s prognosis which, it now turns out, wasn’t too encouraging.
Monday’s developments will almost certainly rob India of a certain first-choice option, though he has not been very successful in Indian conditions.
Praveen is at his best when the ball is swinging around, but his changes of pace with the slower ball have been far too predictable on flat Indian tracks.