The selection committee meeting on Tuesday morning to pick the India cricket team for the Test series against the Australia cricket team should be a pretty straightforward affair. After Monday’s comprehensive victory over Bangladesh in the one-off Test, the selectors don’t have much to stress about in terms of performance.
However, there is one case for the MSK Prasad-led committee which should make their travelling to Mumbai worthwhile. They will need to apply their minds over the right time to recall Rohit Sharma into the squad.
Owing to an upper thigh injury, Rohit missed the series against England and the one-off Test against Bangladesh, but his rehabilitation is almost complete.
Key selection criterion
As a rule, the Indian team management wants all injured players to play domestic matches and prove their fitness before being considered for selection. But there are no first-class matches now. Hence, Rohit’s plan is to play the domestic one-day matches, the Vijay Hazare Trophy, from February 25 in Chennai to prove his fitness.
Mumbai play three back-to-back matches on Feb 25, 26 and 27, against Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, which will be as good as playing a three-day first-class game.
If everything goes well and the selectors are convinced, then Rohit will be available for the second Test.
A packed middle-order
However, the Indian middle-order has an embarrassment of riches with Karun Nair having to sit out immediately after his triple-century. Rohit’s last Test series was against New Zealand, where he got half-centuries in all three Tests.
The other key player whose fitness report will be monitored by Prasad & Co is Bengal speedster Mohammed Shami, who got injured during the five-Test rubber against England. He is an automatic choice but there’s no word on his availability.
For the first Test starting in Pune on February 23, it is likely to be an unchanged team unless leg spinner Amit Mishra, who was replaced by chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav on the eve of the Hyderabad Test, has recovered from a troublesome knee.
The Pune Test will be followed by games at Bengaluru (March 4-8), Ranchi (March 16-20) and Dharamsala (March 25-29).