The uncertainty surrounding India batsman Rohit Sharma’s injury situation, and his participation in India’s tour of Australia, has worsened after India captain Virat Kohli publicly pointed the finger at the BCCI over a “lack of clarity”.
Kohli took the uncommon option of turning on his own administration on the eve of India’s first match on tour, saying Rohit, along with Ishant Sharma, who was also injured during the IPL, could have undergone rehabilitation with the rest of the squad in Australia.
Given India last played an international match in March 2020 – the last time any of the India players played a match format longer than a T20 – the task awaiting India in Australia is daunting. Add to it the whole situation surrounding Rohit, and the impression is that India’s build-up to the marquee tour hasn’t been ideal.
Below, we try to unclutter the mess surrounding Rohit’s injury situation.
What is the confusion?
Rohit sustained a hamstring injury while with Mumbai Indians at IPL 2020, and was subsequently ruled out of India’s squads for the tour of Australia. However, shortly after that squad announcement, Rohit was pictured batting in the nets at the IPL. He went on to feature in a couple of games for MI thereafter, as they cruised to the title, and was included in India’s revised Test.
However, after the IPL, while the rest of the Australia touring party went directly from the UAE to Australia, Rohit returned home for personal reasons. It has since emerged he hadn’t fully recovered from his injury, and that he’d have to undergo further rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy before travelling to Australia.
Rohit is now expected to miss at least the first two Tests of the series, given he will have to undergo quarantine in Australia, if he travels at all. According to Kohli, Rohit’s fitness will next be assessed on December 11, five days before the first Test, and only if he passes that test will he fly to Australia.
It isn’t entirely inconceivable that Rohit will miss the whole Test series as well, should he not sufficiently recover by December 11.
Why exactly is Kohli unhappy?
Kohli’s frustration has to do with the lack of communication and clarity on the whole situation.
“Before we had the selection meeting in Dubai, we had got an email two days before that, which said that [Rohit] is unavailable for selection [as] he has picked an injury during the IPL,” Kohli said on Thursday. “And it mentioned there was a two-week rest and rehab period. The pros and cons and the implications of the injury has been explained to him and he understood that. And he was unavailable for selection. That was the information we got on mail before the selection meeting. After that he played in the IPL, so we all thought he would be on that flight to Australia, which he wasn’t. And we had no information whatsoever on the reason on why he is not traveling with us.
“And after that the only other information officially we have received on mail is that he is in the NCA and he’s been assessed and he’ll be further assessed on December 11. So from the time that the selection meeting happened to the IPL finishing now, when this email came about his assessment at the NCA, there has been no information, there has been lack of clarity. We have been playing the waiting game on this issue for a while now, which is not ideal at all. So, yeah, it’s been very confusing. There has been a lot of uncertainty and lack of clarity around the situation.”
What does it mean for India?
BCCI, in a media-release 4 minutes shy of midnight on the same day Virat Kohli has slammed the communication around Rohit Sharma’s availability, has now officially communicated that ‘Rohit had to return to Mumbai after IPL to attend to his ailing father’. So things can be prompt.
— Raunak Kapoor (@RaunakRK) November 26, 2020
The whole situation has been an unnecessary distraction for India, ahead of only their second international tour of the year – given the Covid-19 enforced break – and one of the marquee events in the cricket calendar.
Rohit is among the biggest names in the team, especially in the white-ball formats, and his absence will be felt both on and off the field. However, it must be kept in mind that India have taken a large contingent Down Under, and have incredible strength in depth. The absence of Rohit, and indeed Ishant, gives a few of the many youngsters in the squad a chance at the big time.
Then again is the question why India’s captain was in the dark about the availability of a senior player. Things became murkier when, hours after Kohli had pointed fingers at the BCCI over a lack of clarity on the Rohit issue, the BCCI sent a release – just minutes shy of midnight in India – explaining that Rohit had travelled to India after the IPL, and wasn’t with the rest of the squad on the flight to Australia, so as to be with his ailing father.
There is also the fact that, all this confusion could have been dealt with internally, and now that it’s all out in the public, there’s the very real possibility that it could distract from the main event: the actual cricket.