Rohit Sharma captain of Mumbai Indians during match 10 of season 13 of the Dream 11 Indian Premier League (IPL) between The Royal Challengers Bangalore and The Mumbai Indians held at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium
Rohit Sharma, who captained Mumbai Indians to their fifth IPL crown in the ͵羺, in full flow in Dubai. Image Credit: Sportzpics for BCCI

Dubai: In what could be a major blow to India’s chances in the demanding Test series against Australia, Rohit Sharma seems destined to miss the first two Test matches Down Under with the Indian cricket board yet to give a definite update on the senior batsman’s progress after injury. Sharma, who is currently recovering from a hamstring injury at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru, is reported to be still not fit to join the team within this month - making it logistically impossible for him to be available for the first Test in Adelaide from December 17.

A leading cricket website reported on Tuesday morning that both Rohit and experienced paceman Ishant Sharma has been ruled out of the first two Tests of the four-match Border-Gavaskar Trophy, which now rests with India. Both players had sustained their injuries during the Indian Premier League in the ͵羺 and were directed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to return to India and work on their rehab.

Earlier, Team India head coach Ravi Shastri dropped a broad hint in an interview on Sunday that unless the duo took a flight to Australia in the “next four or five days,” then taking part in the Test series will not be a proposition for them.

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“He’s (Rohit) going through some tests at the NCA and they’re obviously going to decide (for) how long he needs to take a break,” Shastri said. “But things could get difficult if he’s asked to wait for too long, (because) then you’re talking of the quarantine again, which might make it really tough for even him to come just in time for the Test series,” he added.

Shastri also confirmed that Rohit was never considered for the limited-overs leg, which includes three ODIs and three T20Is, with the first ODI being due on November 27.

“He was never going to play the white-ball series, they were just looking to see how long he needed the rest, because you can’t afford to be resting for too long,” Shastri said. “If you need to play in the Test series or any red-ball cricket, you’ve got to be on the flight in the next three or four days. If you aren’t, then it’s going to be tough.”

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Ishant Sharma's IPL campaign was disrupted when he suffered an abdominal muscle tear. Image Credit: PTI

“It’s a similar case to Rohit,” Shastri said of Ishant. “You don’t really know how quickly he’ll be available to fly out. Like I said, if anyone has to play in the Test series, he has to be on the flight in the next four or five days. Otherwise, it’s very difficult.”

It’s a no-brainer that with skipper Virat Kohli set to fly back after the first Test for the scheduled childbirth of wife Anushka Sharma, Team India would certainly want to make use of Rohit’s experience - though match fitness on a tough tour like Australia has to remain the top priority.

Meanwhile, former Australia skipper and star batsman Steve Smith reckoned Rohit and Kohli’s absence will leave a “big hole” in the Indian team but said the visitors have a lot of talented players who can put their hands up in pressure situations.

“Look, Rohit is obviously a tremendous white-ball player, he has proven that for a number of years now at the top of the order, so obviously it leaves a bit of hole,” Smith said during a virtual press conference.

“But I guess the beauty with the Indian team is there are so many batters coming through, that are of high quality,” he added.