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Rohit Sharma not to join India squad in Australia until Test series

Rohit Sharma will not be part of the Indian contingent flying from Dubai to Sydney on Wednesday for the Australia tour. Sharma, who led the Mumbai Indians to their fifth IPL title on Tuesday, will instead return home to recover completely from the hamstring injury he suffered during the IPL.

The Indian selectors initially left Rohit out of all three squads for the Australia tour, which will be played between November 27 and January 19 and will comprise three ODIs, three T20Is and four Tests. This was because Rohit had suffered a hamstring tear in his left leg on October 18 while completing a run against Kings XI Punjab. He sat out Mumbai’s next four matches before returning to play for their last league match followed by Qualifier 1 and the IPL final, in which he was the top-scorer.

On November 9, the eve of the IPL final, the BCCI said in a media release that Rohit would feature in the Test series, but was being rested for the limited-overs leg of the Australia tour to “regain full fitness”. It is now expected that Rohit will undergo his rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru and, once he passes a fitness test, head to Australia ahead of the Test series, which begins in Adelaide on December 17.

Kohli unlikely to return to Australia post paternity leave

It is also understood that India captain Virat Kohli will not rejoin the Test squad in the New Year once he returns to India on paternity leave following the first Test. Kohli and his partner Anushka Sharma are expecting their first child around early January, so he requested the BCCI to release him after the Adelaide Test, which will the India’s maiden overseas day-night Test and is scheduled from December 17 to 21.

According to the Australian government’s travel guidelines imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a person entering the country has to undergo a 14-day quarantine. So the India team management has accepted that Kohli will not have enough time to be ready for the final two Tests of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, which are scheduled in Sydney (January 7-11) and Brisbane (January 15-19).

Kohli, though, would be part of the Indian contingent, comprising all three squads along with their families, flying late on Wednesday on a charter flight organized by the BCCI to Sydney from Dubai. The Indian touring group will start the tour with a two-week quarantine, during which they are allowed to train subject to clearing the testing protocols put in place by Cricket Australia in coordination with the local government. It is understood the Indian party will start training from November 14 in Sydney.

Ahead of the Test series the Indians will play two warm-up matches, the second of them under lights, ahead of the pink-ball Test. The first warm-up game between India A and Australia A, scheduled to take place from December 6 to 8, clashes with the T20I series, so only the Test specialists, along with the some of the net bowlers, will take part. The entire Test squad, though, will be available for the second warm-up game against Australia A, scheduled from December 11 to 13.

Saha flying to Australia

Wriddhiman Saha, who injured the hamstrings in both his legs while playing an IPL match for Sunrisers Hyderabad, will be part of the touring group flying out on Wednesday. Saha is one of two wicketkeepers named by the selectors for the Test series along with Rishabh Pant.

It is understood that fast bowler Ishant Sharma will travel separately to Australia ahead of the Test series once he is declared completely fit by the NCA, where he is undegoing rehab after suffering an abdominal muscle tear during the IPL. Recently the NCA, which is headed by the former India captain Rahul Dravid, had communicated to the BCCI that Ishant would be ready to start bowling from November 18, after which he will need to prove his match fitness.

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