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Virat Kohli to play only one Test against Australia, Rohit Sharma added to squad

Virat Kohli has been granted paternity leave by the BCCI to return home after the first Test of the Australia tour in Adelaide, scheduled to start on December 17. In another significant development, Rohit Sharma has been included in the Test squad for the Australia tour, after initially being left out because of a hamstring injury, but won’t be a part of the white-ball leg of the tour. Meanwhile, Varun Chakravarthy, the spinner who received a maiden national call-up for India’s T20I series in Australia, has been ruled out because of a shoulder injury. Fast bowler T Natarajan has replaced him in the squad.

Kohli and his wife Anushka Sharma are expecting their fist child around the new year, which had put a question mark over the availability of the Indian captain for the full Austalia tour, which is scheduled to run from November 27 to January 19. The tour will start with three ODIs, followed by three T20Is, with the four-Test Border Gavaskar Trophy played at the end.

The first Test, scheduled from December 17 to 21, will be India’s first day-night Test overseas. In a media release issued on Monday, the BCCI said Kohli would return to India after that match. The Indian board, however, did not specify whether Kohli would return to rejoin the Indian Test squad fat some stage.

“At the selection committee meeting held on October 26th, 2020, Mr Virat Kohli had informed the BCCI about his plans to return to India after the first Test in Adelaide,” the BCCI release, which was signed by board secretary Jay Shah, said. “The BCCI has granted paternity leave to the Indian captain. He will return after the first Test against Australia in Adelaide.”

Rohit to travel to Australia

The omission of Rohit from all three squads for the tour had stirred up into a controversy, with the batsman fit enough to lead Mumbai Indians shortly after his exclusion, while being considered not fit enough to include in India’s squads a month later. On October 26, the day of the selection meeting, the BCCI said in a media release that Rohit was injured and being “monitored”. Hours later, Mumbai posted a video of Rohit batting in the IPL nets on the franchise’s social media feeds, raising eyebrows.

Rohit sat out for four of Mumbai’s matches after having hurt his hamstring while completing a run in the double Super Over loss against Kings XI Punjab on October 18. A few days after the selection meeting, India’s head coach Ravi Shastri told Times Now in an interview that the batsman “could be in danger of injuring himself if he is not careful.” Two days later, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly told PTI that Rohit had a hamstring tear and could “rupture” it if he rushed back. However, a few hours after Ganguly made those comments, Rohit was back on the field, leading Mumbai against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the final league game of IPL 2020. He also played in Qualifier 1 against Delhi Capitals.

On Monday the BCCI said that Rohit would miss the limited overs segment of the Australia tour during which he would focus on his rehab ahead of the Test series. The decision, the BCCI said, was taken in “consultation” with Rohit and the selectors.

“The BCCI Medical Team has been monitoring Rohit Sharma’s fitness and has briefed All-India Senior Selection Committee on the same,” the BCCI said. “In consultation with Mr Sharma, it has been decided to rest him for the ODIs and T20Is in Australia to regain full fitness and he has been included in India’s Test squad for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.”

Although the BCCI release did not mention it, it is expected that Rohit will travel with the rest of the Indian contingent to Australia immediately after the IPL final on Tuesday. Both India and Australia players from the IPL are expected to board a charter flight to Sydney, where India will start their quarantine but will be allowed to train.

Revised squads

T20Is: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul (vice-capt, wk), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Sanju Samson (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, T Natarajan

ODIs: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul (vice-capt, wk), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur, Sanju Samson (wk)

Tests: Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-capt), Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj

More to follow…

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