Recovery race for injured duo
There seems to be no end to the Rohit Sharma fitness saga.
India’s limited overs vice-captain’s availability for the first half of the four-Test series in Australia is under a cloud after he failed to attain the desired level of fitness during his stint at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore.
The condition of fast bowler Ishant Sharma, who too is undergoing rehab at the NCA, is reportedly far from satisfactory and may have to miss the series unless he attains match fitness in the next 7-10 days.
While Rohit is nursing a left hamstring injury, Ishant returned from the IPL with an abdominal muscle tear. Both players weren’t part of the initial squads but included later subject to clearing fitness tests.
“Rohit’s fitness report will be available in the next few days. The medical team at NCA doesn’t wish to leave anything to chance. But there’s a strong possibility of his flying out in the first week of December. Fingers crossed,” a source told The Telegraph on Tuesday.
“Ishant’s chances are comparatively grim since the workload for a fast bowler in Test matches is different. He has to be able to deliver at least 20 overs a day. At this moment Ishant is far from attaining such match fitness,” the source maintained.
India have a lot of commitments next year which includes Test series against England at home and away. The Board is unlikely to risk Ishant in such a scenario since he has a history of breaking down. Earlier this year, an injury had forced him to return from New Zealand after taking five wickets in the first innings of the opening Test.
If Rohit makes it to Australia early next month, he will miss India’s second tour match against Australia A from December 11 as he has to serve the mandatory 14-day quarantine period. He is expected to be out of isolation before the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne but is unlikely to feature given his lack of practice.
The question that crops up is why was he sent to the NCA and not asked to travel with the contingent to Australia?
It’s almost certain that Rohit’s quarantine period will mean full confinement to his hotel room. The Indian contingent, which travelled from the IPL bubble on November 12, were allowed to practise at Sydney’s Olympic Park. Such privilege won’t be afforded to Rohit.
That will mean if Rohit is considered for the third Test in Sydney from January 7 he will have to take the field without any match practice.
Both Ishant and Rohit have been training under physio Ashish Kaushik and are being monitored by NCA chief Rahul Dravid and selection committee chairman Sunil Joshi.
It was also learnt that the team management has made it clear to Joshi that the duo be sent only if they attain full fitness required at the international level.
Sensing the problem, head coach Ravi Shastri had said on Sunday that they needed to board the flight in the next 3-4 days to participate in the first Test from December 17.
Given the current situation, Shreyas Iyer may be asked to stay back after the limited overs series.