India tour of Australia: Rohit Sharma passes fitness test at NCA, set to join India squad

Rohit Sharma passed his fitness test at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru on Friday and will leave for Australia early next week.

Rohit Sharma was included in the Indian squad for the four-match Test series against Australia.   -  VIJAY SONEJI

Having cleared his mandatory fitness test at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, Rohit Sharma is set to leave for Australia in a couple of days and join India’s squad for the last two Tests of the four-Test series starting next week.

The BCCI last month had stated Rohit's fitness will be assessed on December 11. However,Sportstar understands that Rohit, whose hamstring injury, suffered during the Indian Premier League 2020, led to a string of controversies over the last seven weeks, cleared all the mandatory fitness drills on Thursday evening under the watchful eyes of the NCA medical staff with NCA head of cricket Rahul Dravid and chief selector Sunil Joshi in attendance.

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14-day quarantine 

A BCCI official confirmed that since he has proven his fitness, he is expected to be available for selection for the third Test, scheduled in Sydney from January 7. Having returned to Mumbai late on Thursday, Rohit will now travel to Australia via Dubai and will serve the requisite hard 14-day quarantine before resuming training.

It is still not clear whether the senior batsman, who was unavailable for the Test series in New Zealand earlier this year, will fly to Melbourne or Sydney. In any case, the earliest he can resume training Down Under will be on December 29.

Rohit’s presence for the latter half of the series may come in handy since captain Virat Kohli will return to India after the opening Test in Adelaide. It will be interesting to see if Rohit will be considered for the opening batsman’s slot or in the middle-order. The Indian squad in Australia already has four stakeholders for the opener’s role in Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, K.L. Rahul and Shubman Gill.

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End a sequence 

Rohit’s departure will thus end a sequence in which he hurt himself on October 18 and 26th, national selectors omitted him from the tour to Australia, citing his unavailability. However, the Mumbai Indians captain returned to action on November 3, thus fuelling doubts over his omission.

It was followed by his provisional addition to the Test squad but the batsman returned to Mumbai, instead of leaving for Australia, from Dubai, after the end of the IPL. A fortnight later, after captain Kohli had expressed surprise and lack of communication over Rohit’s return to India, the BCCI clarified on November 27 that Rohit had to tend to his ailing father.