For the first time in years, India are now facing a selection crisis after the thrashing at Adelaide Oval by Australia, and the imminent departure of captain Virat Kohli. India were bowled out for their lowest-ever Test score of 36 as Australia took a 1-0 lead with an eight-wicket win in the pink-ball Test. Now, as they regroup to fightback sans skipper, the visitors need someone who can take on the Aussies. And everybody's talking about Rohit Sharma.
Rohit had travelled to Australia after getting clearance from the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru. He missed the entire limited-overs leg of the tour and the first Test. But the 33-year-old is currently locked in a hard quarantine in a two-room apartment in Sydney. According to reports, he can't even start training due to strict quarantine norms imposed by the local government following a fresh outbreak of coronavirus cases.
Cricket Australia has already flown David Warner and Sean Abbott, who are recovering from injuries, from Sydney to Melbourne. But the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) at the moment, can't shift Rohit in the middle of mandatory 14-day quarantine. So, he's effectively out of the second Test, which starts on December 26.
Rohit, who started his quarantine in Sydney on December 17, could be back for the third and fourth Test matches. The BCCI on December 12 declared Rohit "clinically fit" to join the Indian team, but said a call on his participation in the last two matches will be taken after a reassessment by the squad's medical team.
CA is confident that the third Test in Sydney from January 7 will be held as scheduled despite the fresh COVID-19 crisis. In that case, there is no need to shift Rohit to Melbourne.
But, if the situation changes and the third Test match is shifted, the BCCI will discuss with CA and take necessary steps.
Meanwhile, former Australia captain Ricky Ponting on Saturday called for the inclusion of Rohit as an opener at the earliest, after the Indian team's embarrassing defeat.
"He (Rohit) will definitely play. He is a better Test player than Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw. If he is fit then he will straightaway slot at the top of the order," Ponting told Channel 7.
Indian batting great Sunil Gavaskar also said that Rohit is gearing up to play in the last two Tests.
"Yes, yes, he is definitely going to play in this Test series. He is already in Australia as far as I know and he might not be playing the second Test but he will be there for the third and the fourth," Gavaskar told the same TV channel.
Rohit has so far played 32 Test matches, including five against Australia. In ten innings against the Aussies, he has scored 2141 runs at an average of 46.54 , with a highest of 63 not out at Melbourne in 2018.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine