We didn't want to take a chance with Rohit's fitness: Chetan Sharma

Rohit Sharma was not considered for the ODI series against South Africa because the Chetan Sharma-led selection panel didn't want to take chances with the 34-year-old's fitness ahead of a busy international calendar.

FILE PHOTO: Rohit also underwent a rehab programme at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, but the selectors decided to wait and watch.   -  GETTY IMAGES

The five-member national selection committee does not want to ‘take a chance’ with Rohit Sharma’s fitness. The 34-year-old, who was named the white ball captain earlier this month, was not considered for the ODI series against South Africa because he is still ‘not fit’ and with a busy international calendar, the Chetan Sharma-led selection panel wants to make sure that Rohit is absolutely ready before returning to action.

“He is currently in rehab and is building on his fitness. We never wanted to take a chance with Rohit. The selectors thought that we won’t take a chance unless he is 100 per cent fit,” Sharma said on Friday, while naming KL Rahul as stand-in captain for the three-match ODI series.

"We thought that Rohit should do rehab and work on his fitness. There is so much cricket and no player wants to be injured. So, we thought that with the T20 World Cup nearing, we should ensure that Rohit is fully fit. We had a good chat with Rohit," Sharma said.

READ: Chetan Sharma: Everyone told Virat to rethink his decision to quit T20 captaincy

Rohit had to miss out on the Test series against South Africa due to a hamstring injury. While Priyank Panchal replaced him, Rohit left no stone unturned to be fit ahead of the ODI series. The captain also underwent a rehab programme at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru, but the selectors decided to wait and watch.

The chairman of selectors also made it clear that at the moment, the selection committee is only focusing on the T20 World Cup, to be held in Australia later in the year.

"We, the five selectors, are going from World Cup to World Cup. We definitely are preparing for the 2023 World Cup, but our first aim is the T20 World Cup. We are not thinking beyond that. We have no right to assume who will be fit or not. No one wants to be unfit. We are grooming KL Rahul and we also have Bumrah. We want them to learn and that will be good for Indian cricket," Sharma said.

READ: Rohit Sharma 'not fit', K.L. Rahul to lead India in ODI series against South Africa

Sharma, a former India international, also clarified that there is no rift between Kohli and Rohit. Asked whether the selectors should sit down with Kohli and Rohit and talk, Sharma said, “But on what? There is no problem. If you were sitting in my place, you would enjoy seeing how these guys are working together as a team, as a family, as an unit…

“Virat and Rohit are absolutely fine. Please avoid speculation. Both plan together really well. They have fantastic camaraderie. Please leave controversies behind in 2021,” Sharma said.

Ruturaj will do wonders for the Indian team - Chetan Sharma

Chetan Sharma has heaped praise on in-form opener Ruturaj Gaikwad, who has been selected for the upcoming ODIs against South Africa, saying that the Maharashtra batter will "do wonders" for the national team.

"Look, absolutely (he has) got the opportunity at the right time. He was in the T20 team and also now he is in the ODI team, wherever his place can be made, selectors are thinking he will go and do wonders for the country," Sharma said at the team selection press conference.

The 24-year-old Ruturaj was the leading scorer in the 2021 Indian Premier League, after he amassed a staggering 635 runs and played a key role in Chennai Super Kings winning the title.

"We have selected him (Ruturaj). Now it is up to the (team) management to see when he can play in the XI, when he is required and how to go about the combination, these things we will coordinate.

"But, at present, he (Ruturaj) was in the T20 side also against New Zealand and he is in ODI now. He is doing well and he is rewarded for that," Sharma stated.

- PTI

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