Can India get back to the No. 1 spot in a hurry? Yes, why not. Says a wag: Let Team India take part in international cricket for the disabled and the premier position will be theirs for the mere asking. They almost qualify. What is needed is some

more help from the physicians, surgeons and the physios.

This is not a joke but a grand exaggeration of the present plight of Dhonis boys. India have been World Disabled Cricket champions once, thanks to the interest taken by former India captain Ajit Wadekar, who personally did not have any major injury problems during his playing days. He helped the formation of such body and was its first president.

Imagine half the squad going out to play one of the toughest series on the calendar being impaired one way or the other. Those unfit, half- fit or those on the brink of a breakdown include Sehwag, Gambhir, Yuvraj, Dhoni himself, Harbhajan, Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma.

Of these, Sehwag and Yuvraj have returned home, Gambhir, developing a fresh problem every time he claims full fitness, and Zaheer, who has three months to recover after surgery, are still hanging on with the team.

Dhonis palms and fingers have taken such a battering that they sting every time they come in contact with the cricket ball. He must be the bravest cricketer around to carry on for so long in Test matches in so much pain. His being rested would upset the balance of the team, not to mention the captaincy.

vacuum it will create . How much energy will reinforcements and replacements like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, along with bowlers Ashwin, Vinay Kumar and Varun Aaron, will bring to the side, we will have to wait and see. Despite having such a wealth of promising young talent, we are unable to field a fully fit team. Mobility in the field and in running between the wickets are the first casualties. In the coming ODIs these will be put to the severest test. Then there is the lurking fear of some niggle or the other cropping up.

In the midst of all the misery there was a touch of the comic. It came from a statement issued by Ishant Sharma that he will go for a surgery on his ankle at the end of the Australian tour, that is some time early next year.. Isnalt39t it a kind of a joke that, whatever his problem, Ishant thinks he carry on for four to five months. Now you know why the lanky pacer has stopped going all out after the second Test. Do we have another breakdown in the offing? You cannot say that in the case of the Indian team, the problems are born out of any occupational hazard/ It is just the foolhardiness on the part of those who play and those who make them play.

Some of these players know that one mans injury is anothers opportunity. And they just donalt39t want to relent.

A classic example is that of Harbhajan. He went to the West Indies despite abdominal muscle strain. He did not want Ashwin to get a chance to prove one better.

It is only half the World Cup- winning side that will now do battle with England in the One- Dayers.

( The writer is a well- known sports columnist)

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