India Races to Get Nehra, Munaf Unfit in Time for Semi Final

Pair hard at work with physio to ensure neither plays. Also: an apology from Dilshan

Anand Ramachandran

With only days to go before their high-pressure semi-final game against Pakistan in Mohali, team India is desperately battling to get seamers Ashish Nehra and Munaf Patel unfit in time.

“Yes, the lack of injuries to Ashish and Munaf is a major concern,” said skipper MS Dhoni to bewildered reporters at a press conference. “We’re doing our best to get at least one of them out of action, ideally both, to maximise our chances of victory against Pakistan on Wednesday.”

Explaining further, Dhoni said “If we can successfully injure one of our seamers other than Zaheer, we can bring in Praveen Kumar as an emergency replacement. Surely you’ll agree that it’s our best bet now.

“They’re both thorough professionals, fully committed to the team’s cause. In fact, even as we speak, they’re both working extra hard with the physio to make sure that they get completely unfit as soon as possible, so we can start the paperwork to bring Praveen in. All it takes is a lovely strained groin, or a delightful pulled hamstring, or perhaps even an epic cracked rib, and Navjot’s your uncle. Replacement player!” chirped the Indian captain, adroitly using adjectives to describe things they’ve possibly never been used to describe before.

AFP photo

When a journalist pointed out that a similar strategy could be implemented for Piyush Chawla as well, Dhoni replied, “I only said that Piyush isn’t mentally strong. Physically, he’s right up there. In fact, you could call him the R Ashwin of physical toughness. In fact, I just did.”

Team coach Gary Kirsten has been requested by the BCCI to put a proper injury coach and unfitness trainer in place before he leaves at the end of the World Cup.

“You have to agree that, fairly often, international cricket teams are faced with situations where they’d be happier if one or more of their selected squad members weren’t available to play,” said Kirsten. “As a professional unit, you have to be prepared to make sure that you’re not stuck with a fully fit squad at the wrong time – such as in this very World Cup. Look at the way Australia and England handled it with Hussey and Morgan coming in. That’s the kind of level we need to be at.”

Tillakaratne Dilshan, Man of the Match in Sri Lanka’s thumping quarter-final victory against England, has apologised to all fantasy league cricket players who didn’t pick him in their fantasy teams this week.

“I’m really sorry. There was no way the fantasy league players could have known that I would slam a hundred, take a wicket with the new ball, and generally outperform other fantasy team regulars like Sanga, Mahela and Lasith. My sincere apologies to all those who lost huge points by not picking me in their teams, or even worse, removing me as the captain at the last minute,” said an unusually contrite Dilshan. “And while I’m at it, I might as well also apologise for that ludicrous advertisement where I’m gleefully flipping that silly piece of cloth over my shoulder – like Rajnikanth in Annamalai. Was it Annamalai?” he continued.

However, he omitted to apologise for his weird “Walk like an Egyptian”-esque celebration when he dismissed Sachin Tendulkar in an ODI several years ago. (Yes, I remember that. I’m an Indian fan, aren’t I? We’re easily offended like that.)


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