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Ravi Shastri: To play Australia Tests Rohit and Ishant need to fly out of India in ‘four-five’ days

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Following Indian team’s arrival in Australia the buzz surrounding the upcoming Border-Gavaskar series is sky-high in Down Under. In the post-COVID world this is going to be the first high-profile Test series, involving the No. 1 and 2 ranked Test sides. Last time India toured Australia (in 2018-19 season) they went on to register a historic maiden Test series triumph in this part of the world. However, on this occasion many believe that against a full-strength Australian side India will start as underdogs, especially because their skipper Virat Kohli is going to miss three Tests due to the birth of his first child.

Rohit Sharma has been added to the Indian squad as Virat’s replacement but he is still in India, recovering from his hamstring injury. He is due to fly to Australia soon along with Ishant Sharma, who too is recovering from his injury.

Meanwhile, team India coach, Ravi Shastri, believes that in order to be selection ready for the first Test, which will be a day-night encounter starting on December 17 in Adelaide, the duo need to fly out of India within next ‘four-five days’.

“He’s [Rohit] going through some tests at the NCA [National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru] and they’re obviously going to decide [for] how long he needs to take a break,” Shastri said in a chat with Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Sunday (November 22). “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. Similar is the case with Ishant who’s also at the NCA.”

Currently, due to a rise of COVID-19 cases in Australia a strict 14-day quarantine rule has been in place for all arriving international passengers. So, if Rohit and Ishant reach Australia after November 26, they won’t be able to take part in a three-day warm-up match under lights, starting from December 11.

“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 on Rohit missing the limited-overs leg of the tour which starting on November 27. “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.”

While updating on Ishant’s situation Shastri added, “It’s a similar case to Rohit. 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.”

Nevertheless, despite being in quarantine the Indian team has been allowed to practice inside their bio-secure bubble. Shastri feels this move has been a hugely beneficial for the team.

“I think that was the clincher. If it was hard quarantine, I would have found it hard for a full tour to go on,” he said. “That’s for sure. Once they said it was soft quarantine and the boys could practice, that made things a lot easier.

“Luckily, a lot of the boys played in the IPL – as would have a lot of the Australians – so that would have kick-started them over the last month and a half. So are far as match fitness goes, they are pretty much there.”

Sandipan Banerjee is a senior cricket journalist with experience stretching across more than a decade. Having founded a number of cricket information resources and prior experience of working in big-ticket events like ICC Cricket World Cup, IPL and ICC Champions’ Trophy; he joined the team at in 2019 to provide strategic guidance and to assume a brand ambassador role as principal correspondent. Due to Sandipan’s commitment towards the game, it’s safe to assume that if India are involved in a Test, ODI or a T20I, he’ll be there covering the match!

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