Friday 16 February 2007 

Dravid Eases Tendulkar Injury Concerns

Indian skipper Rahul Dravid said there was no serious injury concern over Sachin Tendulkar after back trouble ruled him out of Saturday's deciding fourth one-dayer against Sri Lanka.

"Actually, there is no real concern," Dravid told reporters on Friday. "He is experiencing some stiffness in his back and we did not want him to aggravate it."

The injury had raised concerns over Tendulkar's World Cup hopes because the 33-year-old has suffered a series of injuries in the last seven years, attributed mainly to the wear and tear of constant playing.

The teams are tied 1-1 after the opening game had to be abandoned due to rain.

The hosts still have worries over the batting and bowling slump of Virender Sehwag and left-arm seamer Irfan Pathan with middle-order batsman Yuvraj Singh yet to touch his best after his recent comeback from a knee ligament injury.

Dravid said Pathan, who missed the first three games due to a shoulder niggle, could replace batsman Dinesh Karthik.

"Irfan has pulled up well, he bowled 10 overs on the trot at the nets today," he said. Experienced leg spinner Anil Kumble would be rested for the second consecutive game.

Sehwag, 28, will get a final opportunity to end his slump before the World Cup, having made just one fifty in his last 12 innings since August with 19 his second highest score.

Dravid and Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene were fully focused on the series, although they will meet in the first round of the World Cup starting in West Indies on March 13.

"We're focusing to win the series here tomorrow," Dravid said. "World Cup is there in the back of our minds (but) winning a match on hand is more important and we want to win every game."

Jayawardene was hopeful Sri Lanka could win to claim their first bilateral one-day series in India.

"The World Cup is in our mind, but we want to win here which will mean a series win on Indian soil," he said.


© Reuters 2007