Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami to be rotated: Virat Kohli
The Sydney Cricket Ground was the last venue to host an international cricket match in March before Covid-19 stopped play. On Friday, it will mark the return of the Indian cricket team after more than nine months with the first ODI against Australia.
Crowds too will be back, albeit only half of SCG’s capacity. “Everyone is excited to start playing in front of crowds. We came back to action after a very difficult time and things are getting better as we speak. The situation in Australia is at a place where we are able to play in front of crowds, which is a big boost for all players,” India skipper Virat Kohli said in a media interaction on Thursday.
Also Read | IND vs AUS, 1st ODI, Live Updates
Australia have been bolstered by the return of David Warner and Steve Smith, who were not part of the team on India’s last tour in 2018-19, when the visitors won the Tests and ODI series. For India though, Rohit Sharma, a key factor in India’s strong limited-overs performances in the last decade, will be absent. Recovering from a hamstring injury at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, he is also likely to miss most of the Test series.
Kohli criticised a lack of clarity over Rohit’s injury with pacer Ishant Sharma too is under rehabilitation in India after a stomach muscle injury suffered during IPL.
“Before we had the selection meeting in Dubai, we got a mail two days before which said he is unavailable for selection (and that) he’s picked up an injury during IPL. It mentioned he has a two-week rest and rehab period. It said the pros and cons of the injury had been explained to him and he understood that. After that he played in the IPL and we thought he would be on that flight to Australia, which he wasn’t. We had no idea whatsoever why he was not travelling with us. The only other official information we have received is he is at the NCA and will be further assessed on December 11. There has been lack of clarity and lot of uncertainty. We have been playing the waiting game which is not ideal at all,” Kohli said.
“Had Rohit and Ishant (back to bowling at NCA after suffering a stomach muscle injury) been doing their rehab here, it would have definitely increased their chances to play in the Test series. Somebody like Wriddhiman Saha who was injured during the IPL is here and is on his way to become fully fit.”
Even if Rohit is declared fit on December 11 and travels to Australia the next day, the opener will have to go through a two-week hard quarantine till December 26, which would not allow him to train. The second Test at MCG starts that day.
Rohit’s absence will give an opportunity for the youngsters. While KL Rahul, who has batted at No.5 in recent ODIs, could partner Shikhar Dhawan as opener, Mayank Agarwal and Shubman Gill too are available. Shreyas Iyer and Hardik Pandya are almost automatic choices as Indian batsmen prepare to negate the pace attack of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood. “We are looking to give opportunity to the younger players. They are eager to play in Australia, to realise something new about their game. It’s a very important series for them,” Kohli said.
Kohli said Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami are likely to be rotated in the limited-overs series to keep them fresh for the Tests. That will give Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur a chance to play. “It’s a no-brainer. They had a full IPL. Both are bowling in great rhythm so their workload needs to be managed. So, the younger guys getting chance comes into play. You want to see how they react to different situations,” he said.
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