The senior batsman has been given a detailed training programme for his 14 days of quarantine in Sydney
Rohit Sharma has been declared “clinically fit” by the medical team at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru after his three-week rehabilitation stint for a hamstring injury.
On Saturday, the BCCI issued a statement clarifying that Sharma had been assessed for his batting, fielding, and running between the wickets, and that the NCA medical staff had found his physical fitness “satisfactory”.
As reported by ESPNcricinfo on Friday, Sharma has cleared the NCA’s assessment and is expected to fly to Sydney from Mumbai via Dubai on Sunday to begin a 14-day hard quarantine outside of India’s current bio-secure bubble. The statement also said that Sharma would have to, nonetheless, continue to work on his endurance during his hard quarantine in Sydney – his participation in the final two Tests will depend on the assessment of his “fitness status” by the Indian team’s medical staff.
Sharma has also been given a detailed training programme for the period of quarantine.
If all goes well, Sharma will be available for India’s last two Tests – of the four-match series – in Australia in January.
While there is the question on whether Sharma will come out match ready after the 14-day quarantine, the eight-day gap between the second and third Tests – which begins on January 7 – is understood to have encouraged the management to have the senior batsman in the mix.
This official communication from the BCCI potentially ends a weeks-long saga about Sharma’s fitness and availability for the Australia tour, a subject that had left even India captain Virat Kohli confused last month.
Sharma had initially been left out of the tour because of the hamstring injury he picked up during the IPL, with the BCCI saying he would be “monitored”. Sharma sat out four matches for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL at the time, but returned – after being left out of the squads for the Australia tour – to lead his team to the title. At the time, on November 9, the BCCI had sad that the selectors had decided to “rest” Sharma from the white-ball leg in Australia in order for him to get more focused rehabilitation at the NCA and be in contention for the Tests. He was subsequently named in the squad for the last two Tests, subject to how his rehabilitation went.
Sharma was the incumbent opener before missing India’s last Test series, in New Zealand earlier this year, also because of injury. India currently have a number of opening options with the squad as they prepare for the start of the Tests, but Sharma is expected to bolster the line-up, particularly after Kohli goes on paternity leave after the first Test in Adelaide.
Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo