The injured pace attack

While Zaheer is doubtful for the first couple of Tests against Australia Umesh Yadav looks set to miss the full series

Umesh YadavIt started as a 10- day rest for India speedster Umesh Yadav when he injured his back during the first Test against England in Ahmedabad in November. He was rested for the second and third Tests, but was expected to be back for the fourth in Nagpur.

But what followed is a scenario familiar with fast bowlers in the country. The rehabilitation period kept extending and now the promising paceman looks set to miss the Australia series as well.

This isn’t the first time that an injured pacer has failed to return to the team at the expected time. Yadav follows the likes of Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel and the frequently injured Varun Aaron.

Yadav — who had a fantastic outing in Australia in the 2011- 2012 season — was expected to lead the pack in Ishant Sharma’s company at home against the Aussies, but he is still recuperating at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore.

“ I was really looking forward to the series against Australia, but now it looks like it will take till March for me to be fully fit and back bowling,” Yadav told M AIL T ODAY . This means that he is looking at the Indian Premier League to make a return to competitive cricket.

He isn’t the first top pacer to seem doubtful for the Australia series. Pace spearhead Zaheer was trying hard to get fit for that purpose, but was injured in Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy match against Gujarat in December and had to miss the rest of the tournament and the ongoing Irani Cup match.

Although he said on January 21 that he was back in training, he made it clear that there was still some time before he started bowling.

“ Training and injury rehabilitation is going well at the NCA, but will be a while till I get back to bowling,” he had said.

Since then, he has been advised three weeks’ rest and is sure to miss at least the first half of the series Zaheer Khan against Australia.

Yadav burst on to the scene with another speedster Aaron. While critics felt that the former had a better fitness level, Aaron hasn’t done much to prove them wrong.

Out since the home series against the West Indies in 2011, he returned to play for IPL outfit Delhi Daredevils in last year’s edition, before getting injured again.

If the regular visits to the NCA weren’t bad enough, Aaron is now set to travel to England next week for consultation regarding his back injury.

“Although I was set to travel to Australia for rehabilitation last year, it was postponed and I was rehabilitating at the NCA. But next week I am travelling to England and will consult a few doctors there,” Aaron told Mail Today.

He too expects to be fit for the IPL. “ I am keeping my fingers crossed and hope to be back for IPL,” the 23- year- old said.

Even Irfan Pathan’s case hasn’t been any different. Playing for Baroda in the Ranji Trophy against Karnataka in November, he suffered a freak knee injury.

Initially, he was expected to be out for a month and was even looking to be back for the series against Pakistan.

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And while India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni rued the absence of a pace bowling allrounder, Irfan has been restricted to making regular trips to the NCA. Another casualty has been Munaf Patel. Even as Baroda coach Sanath Kumar expected him to be fit for the second half of the Ranji Trophy, there is still no news on his fitness.

With the selectors meeting on Sunday to pick the squad for the Test series against Australia, it will once again be a case of giving the youngsters an opportunity to team up with Ishant as the seniors are nowhere near fit enough.

Zaheer had said on Jan 21 that he was back in training, but he has been advised three weeks’ rest and is sure to miss at least the first half of the series against Australia

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