sport

India call up Karthik

India have called up Dinesh Karthik as cover Mahendra Singh Dhoni ahead of the third one-day international against Pakistan.

India skipper Dhoni has sustained a minor back injury and is a doubt for Sunday's third and final match in Delhi.

With the series already lost after successive defeats, Dhoni may choose to save himself for the five-match series against England which begins in Rajkot on January 11.

Karthik, 27, will be on hand to replace him if required, but his inclusion would further weaken an Indian side who have been heavily criticised in the local press for two insipid displays against their most fierce rivals.

Indeed, among the batsmen, only Dhoni has shown anything like his best form with scores of 113 not out and 54 not out.

Karthik, meanwhile, has scored just five half-centuries in 52 ODI appearances with an average just north of 27.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India tweeted on Saturday: "Dinesh Karthik has been flown in as a back-up to MS Dhoni. The Indian captain is suffering from sore back.''

India are set to announce their squad for the five-match contest against England after Sunday's match.

Under-performing stars such as Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag will all be hoping for a big performance against Pakistan to put to rest questions over their places.