Tourists suffer blow ahead of second Test as Zaheer Khan is ruled out

INDIA'S hopes of levelling the four-match series against England suffered a blow when it was confirmed key paceman Zaheer Khan will miss the Trent Bridge Test due to a hamstring injury.

Zaheer broke down early in the first Test at Lord's, a match England went on to win by 196 runs. And captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni confirmed the 32-year-old would not be risked in Nottingham with the match starting today.

Left-armer Zaheer impressed initially at Lord's with an excellent new-ball spell which saw him dismiss both England openers, Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, before pulling up clutching his hamstring in his 14th over. With Zaheer out, India are likely to choose between back-up bowlers Sreesanth and Munaf Patel.

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Coach Duncan Fletcher showed a clear preference for pace during his time in charge of England, suggesting the brisker - but more unpredictable - Sreesanth could get the nod.

Dhoni also revealed Gautam Gambhir is "doubtful at this stage" to play today as he recovers from a badly bruised elbow. On Zaheer, the India captain said: "He is ruled out for this game."

It is thought likely Sreesanth will replace Zaheer - and if Gambhir is also unfit, Yuvraj Singh can come into the middle order and Rahul Dravid will be pushed up to open again.

England captain Strauss confirmed bowler Chris Tremlett will be monitored ahead of the game, but remains "confident" the paceman will be available for the clash.

Tremlett, who teamed up so effectively with Stuart Broad and James Anderson in the first Test, missed training on Wednesday with a "tight" hamstring and only trained briefly at the Nottinghamshire ground yesterday morning.

Strauss, however, said: "I think he's fine. Obviously he's had a bit of a niggle with his hamstring. He's just getting a massage and will be coming out for a bit of a bowl later.

"At the moment we expect him to be fit for tomorrow, but obviously like all these things we'll see in the morning. We're confident he should be okay."