India captain Virat Kohli said he was kept in the dark about deputy Rohit Sharma’s hamstring injury and believes the opener should have travelled to Australia to boost his chances of playing the Test series against Tim Paine’s men.
Rohit was initially ruled out of the entire Australia tour with the injury which kept him out of four Indian Premier League (IPL) matches in the United Arab Emirates. The 33-year-old, however, returned to lead Mumbai Indians to a record fifth IPL title, prompting questions about the extent of his injury.
The Indian board subsequently added him to the Test squad, while monitoring his recovery at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, having deemed him still unfit to travel with the rest of the team to Australia. “It’s been very confusing and there’s been a lot of uncertainty... around the situation,” Kohli said ahead of today’s one-day series opener in Sydney. “After that (injury), he played in the IPL, so we all thought that he was going to be on that flight to Australia, which he wasn’t. So from the time that the selection meeting happened... there’s been no information, there’s been a lack of clarity. And we’ve been playing the waiting game on this issue for a while now which is not ideal at all.”
Like Rohit, Ishant Sharma’s participation in the Test series is also uncertain as the quick bowler continues his recovery from a rib-cage injury in Bengaluru. Kohli said that it would have been ideal for both Rohit and Ishant to complete their rehab in Australia, similar to wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha’s case. Saha, who was originally named in the Test squad, hurt both his hamstrings in the first week of November, while playing for the Sunrirsers Hyderabad in the IPL. However, the selectors retained Saha after receiving the nod from the BCCI’s medical team, which was confident that he would regain fitness in time for the Test series, where he is one of the two wicketkeepers along with Rishabh Pant.
“Yeah, [it] definitely would have increased the chances of both of them playing Test matches,” Kohi said. “Someone like Saha, who also had an injury during the IPL and is here and doing rehab with the team, so we are aware of his progress and he is on the right path to make sure that he is fit and available in time to play the Test series. And same would have been the case with Ishant and Rohit as well – it would have given them a chance to get themselves fit and be available for the start of the Test series,” he said.
The India captain was also unhappy with the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) decision to change rules to determine the finalists for next year’s World Test Championship (WTC). Considering the matches that could not be played because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the ICC has decided to rank teams based on the percentage of points won, instead of accumulated points, from completed matches.
“It’s definitely surprising,” said Kohli, whose team led the points table but have now slipped to second place, behind Australia, who have a higher percentage of points. “It’s happened out of nowhere and I think further questions about this should be asked to the ICC and understand why this has been done...”
Kohli will return home after the first Test for the impending birth of his first child, and he said said the decision was made prior to the selection meeting.
“The decision was made before we had the selection meeting and I explained the same to selectors that I will be flying back after the first Test. It was purely based on the fact that because we have a quarantine period both ways. I wanted to be back home in time to be with my wife for the birth of my first child,” he said.
“It is a very, very special and very, very beautiful moment that I want to experience. That was the reason behind my decision and I communicated to the selectors during the selection meeting,” Kohli added.
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