India's expectations tempered by Kumar injury
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said the absence of injured paceman Praveen Kumar will hurt the team in the upcoming Cricket World Cup.
Dhoni said Thursday that Kumar was a "street-smart cricketer who will be missed a lot."
Kumar has been a regular in India's limited-overs teams, but suffered an elbow injury during last month's tour of South Africa.
He was flown out to undergo treatment in India and England but failed a fitness test on Monday and was ruled out of the World Cup.
- MS Dhoni (captain)
- Ravichandran Ashwin
- Piyush Chawla
- Gautam Gambhir
- Zaheer Khan
- Virat Kohli
- Ashish Nehra
- Munaf Patel
- Yusuf Pathan
- Suresh Raina
- Virender Sehwag
- Harbhajan Singh
- Yuvraj Singh
- Shantakumaran Sreesanth
- Sachin Tendulkar
He was replaced by Shantakumaran Sreesanth, while Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Munaf Patel are the other pace bowlers in the squad.
"It is very unfortunate that Praveen had to miss the World Cup," said Dhoni. "But you can't really restrict injuries from happening to players."
The captain said there were no other injury concerns even though Virender Sehwag (shoulder) and Gautam Gambhir (hand) did not figure in the one-dayers in South Africa, while Sachin Tendulkar (hamstring) returned home midway through the five-match series.
"A few players are suffering from slight niggles, which is always there," Dhoni said. "Hopefully, nothing major happens to any player."
India is under pressure to win the World Cup, both because it is co-host and because it hasn't won the event since its sole victory in 1983, yet Dhoni was trying to temper expectant fans.
"There is always a lot of hype and expectations around the World Cup," Dhoni said. "Expectations will always be there, but we need to consider it just as a big tournament."
India's spin attack is led by the experienced Harbhajan Singh. Offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin and leg-spinner Piyush Chawla are the other slow bowlers, and Dhoni said all three could figure if the pitches were suitable.
"It is very important to have the right strategy, always be ready with Plan B or Plan C," Dhoni said. "The composition of the team will depend on the conditions and we could consider playing three spinners too."
Dhoni felt no team could not be taken lightly in a format being considered easy for the top sides.
"For us, the World Cup will start from Game 1 and not the quarter-finals," he said. "Many are saying that group matches will be boring, but these small teams surprised in the 2007 World Cup."
"So wait and watch what they can do — all the teams are dangerous," Dhoni noted, referring to India's early loss to Bangladesh that led to India's shock exit in the first round.
"As a team, it is always better to back your strength. Most of the teams will go with a strong bowling attack."
India starts its campaign against Bangladesh in the tournament opener at Dhaka on Feb. 19.