Injured Tendulkar to return home

Injured Tendulkar to return home

Team manager Ranjib Biswal confirmed that Tendulkar was leaving for India on Sunday. Wicketkeeper-batsman Parthiv Patel, who hit half-centuries in his last two matches against New Zealand whilst opening the batting, will fly out as his replacement, the BCCI said in a press release.

In his first one-day outings since last February, Tendulkar made scores of 7 and 24 without looking on top of his game. He becomes the fourth first-choice player in the starting eleven – after Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Praveen Kumar – to return home with an injury, thereby scuttling India’s designs of using this series as a dress rehearsal for the World Cup.

Only on Saturday, Tendulkar joined Sanath Jayasuriya as the most capped one-day player with 444 appearances. His absence will further weaken the batting line-up, struggling to piece together meaningful totals. India have been bowled out well inside 50 overs for two matches in a row now, tallies of 154 and 190 suggesting that plenty of work lies ahead of the batting unit.

The 37-year-old’s unavailability leaves the team with just one specialist opener in Murali Vijay. The Tamil Nadu right-hander, a replacement for Sehwag, hasn’t been in the greatest touch, adding to the think-tank’s headaches. Given the lack of options, Vijay is likely to retain his place, with one of Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma as his opening partner, considering it will take Parthiv at least a couple of days to arrive here.

“We will have to open with someone,” Mahendra Singh Dhoni said, helpfully. “I don’t know what’s happening, whether we are getting someone from India or not. Because of all the formalities, it is possible that a replacement will come here with just one match left. Vijay is looking a bit out of form, but he’s working well in the nets. Form is just a matter of a few strokes. Once you get those few strokes, all of a sudden you feel back in form.”

Tendulkar’s injury isn’t a serious one, but the team management is in no mood to allow an aggravation of the hamstring strain ahead of the World Cup, given the value the little man brings to the team. “He has been handling pressure for 21 years now, and he takes it as pleasure,” Dhoni observed. “He is one batsman every captain wants in his side. His contribution is important not only on the field, but in the dressing room also. It is good to have him in the side.”

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