Ishant likely to replace Umesh, Steyn still doubtful

Bengaluru: Having served a one-Test suspension, India’s pace spearhead Ishant Sharma is raring to have a go at the South African batting line-up and is all set to replace Umesh Yadav in the playing XI for the second cricket Test, starting Saturday.

Ishant’s counterpart Dale Steyn, however, is still battling against time to get fit for the important encounter.

Ishant’s inclusion in the playing XI was never in question but what one was curious as to whom he would replace in the starting line-up.

The Indian team’s training session at the Chinnaswamy Stadium gave ample indication that Varun Aaron, who worked up good pace and also got a second innings wicket of Dean Elgar, would partner Ishant with the new ball.

Yadav, who played in the last Test match, was seen doing fielding drills for the better part of the session as both Ishant and Aaron bowled at the main nets.

Ishant, in fact, bowled for a considerable amount of time as he hurled the red cherry to almost all the top order batsmen including skipper Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Muali Vijay.

Despite being out of international cricket for a month-and-a-half, Ishant had been in good form as he got nine wickets in a Ranji game against Vidarbha and a couple against Haryana in the match where he sustained a hamstring injury.

Had he been fit, in all likelihood he would have played the last couple of ODIs.

Aaron was also seen bowling at the main nets while Yadav along with KL Rahul were seen taking catches. Yadav did bowl later but it was to the lower order batsmen which was an indication that he might find it difficult to make it to the playing XI.

Meanwhile, South African pace spearhead Steyn will be appearing for a fitness test as the team management will like to ensure that he has recovered fully from the groin strain, which he sustained during the first Test.

When AB de Villiers was asked about status of Steyn’s fitness, he didn’t sound too optimistic.

“He’s going to have a fitness test. So I’m not 100% sure.

We are hoping for his return but we’ll see how he goes today and tomorrow,” De Villiers said.