Johannesburg: It's the season of Indian openers going back home indisposed. After Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir returned from South Africa before the start of the ODI series to nurse injuries and get fit for the World Cup, Sachin Tendulkar too has gone back on Sunday. The master batsman has developed a right hamstring niggle and will need to rest for a week or so.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Parthiv Patel, who was in the stand-bye list, is being sent as Tendulkar's replacement.
Tendulkar did not take the field during the South African innings in the second ODI on Saturday. When asked after the match if Tendulkar was carrying any injuries, skipper MS Dhoni said, "Yes. He is probably going back." Later India team manager Ranjib Biswal confirmed that Tendulkar had returned home because of the strain he picked up in Saturday's dramatic victory over the Proteas in the second One-dayer. But the good news is that he will be fit for the World Cup and available for selection on Monday when the selectors pick the 15-member World Cup team in Chennai.
Tendulkar's sudden departure leaves the team bare at the top, especially in view of the hostile conditions in South Africa. M Vijay, the only specialist opener in the squad now, has been struggling in South Africa with poor form.
And with the middle order also not showing stability, Dhoni has a problem on his hands. He, though, opted to be optimistic about the situation. "Vijay is looking a bit out of form, but he's working well in the nets. Form is just a matter of a few strokes. Once you get those few strokes, all of a sudden you feel back in form."
Patel did well as opener in the recent home ODI series against New Zealand with scores of 53 and 56 not out in the two games he played.