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Sehwag suspense continues, Dravid to feel Sachin's absence

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Mar 27: Suspense over Virender Sehwag's availability in tomorrow's match against England continued with Team India think-tank exuding confidence but failing to confirm that the opener will take to the field in the ODI series opener.

''Sehwag exercised today and he has passed the fitness test as well. However, we would be keeping an eye on him and a final decision on his availability would be announced tomorrow,'' host captain Rahul Dravid told reporters here today.

Later, BCCI official GS Walia told UNI '' We are assessing Sehwag's condition and as of now, he is not ruled out yet.'' Sehwag sustained back spasm in the Mumbai Test and batted at number seven in the second innings.

Adding fuel to speculation was the presence of Tejinder Pal Singh in the nets even though Dravid denied the batsman was called in as cover for injured Sehwag.

''He has been doing well in the domestic tournaments and this is part of the Board's policy to invite such players to the nets and share the dressing room with senion players which would boost their morale. We had Piyush Chawla with us earlier and then (Kahsmiri pacer) Abid Nabi was invited in the nets before the Mohali Test.'' ''You can call it a reward for the youngsters to get this opportunity after performing well in the domestic curcuit,'' he explained.

Meanwhile, Dravid also informed that Munaf Patel has sustained minor bruises.

''He has bruise on his heels but that should not be a problem.

We are assessing his situation but that's not a worry.'' Dravid said the team would miss Sachin Tendulkar the batsman in the match even though he was hopeful that part-time bowlers would fill the void for Tendulkar the bowler.

''We would definitely miss Sachin as a batsman. Even though he has shone with the ball in Pakistan as well, I think we can have a bit more from Yuvraj (Singh), (Suresh) Raina and even Sehwag who can bowl.'' ''In batting too, we would like to have bit more from the top order, while down the batting line-up, Irfan Pathan has showed his batting skills, and Ramesh Powar, Bhajji and even (S) Sreesanth can also bat,'' he said.

''We have our eyes set on long-term plans and we want to develop multi-skilled players,'' he said.

Pointed out that the frontline batsmen had not performed well in the Test series, Dravid said, ''It doesn't need anyone to point out that, it's too evident. True, the top order did not fire in the Test matches and this time we are expecting them to do so.'' Dravid praised the visitors for squaring the series coming from behind and said, ''They are a good side and their middle order has some impact players. (Andrew) Flintoff and (Kevin) Pietersen are dangerous batsmen and they have a good bowling side as well.'' His England counterpart Andrew Flintoff said the team morale was high after winning the Mumbai Test and he was fresh after spending three days with his nascent son back in England.

''It was fantastic to win in Mumbai and personally, I spent three days with my new-born son and family and feeling fresh,'' he said.

Despite leading a relatively young side, Flintoff looked upbeat and he said, ''Some players in my side got through opportunities after four senior players dropped out due to injury and they have performed well.'' ''In the one day series, we have to do the basics right and resource management would be crucial for us,'' he elaborated.

Flintoff also seemed unhappy with the travelling that awaits his side in the one-day series.

''It's going to be difficult for we will be travelling all over India for the seven matches.'' On Tendulkar missing the match, Flintoff seem did not bothered about the fact and said, ''Sachin is a fine, fine player and I'm not sure of his condition.''

UNI

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