Fast bowler Ishant Sharma will be available for the opening Test against Australia starting on December 26 and may resume bowling in the nets with full vigour on Wednesday, according to team sources.
The tall fast bowler had not bowled since he walked away after sending down 5.3 overs on Day One of the two-day practice match against Cricket Australia Chairman's XI at Manuka Oval in Canberra last week. That had triggered speculation that his ankle injury had flared up again and could sideline him for the first Test in Melbourne.
Sources confirmed that Ishant did have some trouble in his left ankle but it wasn't alarming enough to send him back or rule him out of the first Test.
Getting the feel
On Monday, Ishant rolled his arm over in the nets while his team mates played against the CA Chairman's XI in the final warm-up game in Canberra. The Delhi pacer bowled one over off a shortened run-up. He then told HT, “Pleased with the workout. I'm feeling good.”
Asked if he would pass the fitness assessment, he gave a thumbs-up.
India's bowling coach Eric Simons was also confident Ishant would be fit ahead of the Boxing Day Test. “I'm very happy with our preparations. I think we've done our best. I see no reason why Ishant shouldn't play the Boxing Day Test.”
Ishant’s coach Sharavan Kumar explained the problem. "Actually, he uses a customised ankle strap which was troubling him in the first instance. Then he had some problem in his left foot which wasn’t anything major. He consulted a doctor and is fine now.”
Team sources confirmed that Ishant consulted a specialist in the Australian capital who gave an injection on the affected part and advised him rest.
Ishant injured his ankle during the forgetful tour of England and was initially advised surgery. However, he underwent rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy and was treated by Delhi-based alternative therapist Dr. Jatin Chaudhary. Ishant had told HT that he would put off surgery to play in Australia but later said he may not need one at all.
The bowler made his comeback in last month's home Test series against West Indies.
He played in the first two matches before being rested for the final Test in Mumbai after India took an unassailable 2-0 series lead.
(With inputs from Rohit Bhaskar in Canberra)
(Dinesh Chopra works for ESPN's SPORTSCENTER)