Leading Indian batsman Rohit Sharma’s hamstring injury has snowballed into a major controversy after he played the Mumbai Indians’s (MI) game against SunRisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League (IPL), just days after the national selectors ignored him from all three formats for this month’s Australia tour — apparently due to injury.
Neither the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has so far explained as to why Sharma was excluded from the national Test, ODI, and T20 teams, nor has the chairman of selectors as the teams were announced through a press release, and there was no media interaction with the any BCCI official over the team selection.
While announcing the team on October 26, the BCCI merely said: “The BCCI Medical Team will continue to monitor the progress of Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma.” This smartly drafted sentence does not even mention the word ‘injury’, leave alone the exact nature of the injuries of the two players.
This lack of transparency on the part of the BCCI and its apparent lack of communication with the MI franchise over their captain has embarrassed all parties. Clearly, there is something amiss.
Sharma said at the post-match presentation on Tuesday that his hamstring was absolutely fine and that he was fit. “I’m looking forward to play few more games here, let’s see what happens. It [hamstring] is fine, absolutely,” he said.
This happened the same day BCCI president Sourav Ganguly was quoted by a section of the media as saying that Sharma was not picked for the Australia series because he was ‘unfit’.
The current selection committee says that it would go by the BCCI medical team’s report. The report says Sharma is injured and is being monitored. For them and BCCI, he remains unfit until it is proven otherwise.
“Sharma has been unfit. Maybe, he is now trying to prove himself fit by playing. So what is the issue? Ganguly said that he was ignored [by the national selectors] because of fitness issues. The ball is in Mumbai Indians’ court. They need to find out if he is fit to play. If he proves his fitness and we get the report, we’ll pick him,” a source close to the selection committee told IANS.
The problem is that Sharma’s injury was never deemed serious by MI.
Although Ganguly as well as the selectors have been saying that Sharma, an automatic starter in the Indian team for the shorter formats, has an injury and was being monitored, MI were clear from the start that his injury was never serious and he just had a niggle in his hamstring.
Sharma was fit to bat but wasn’t sure about his match fitness which he proved on Tuesday and the period of rest was just precautionary because IPL is a long tournament and he has a long season ahead, MI say. They was clarified that Sharma had not suffered a Grade 2 tear which requires weeks to get fit.
Against SRH on Tuesday, Sharma proved his match fitness by picking some sharp singles and was on the field as he captained the MI.
If the injury wasn’t serious enough, the selectors could have picked Sharma in the Indian team for the tour of Australia.
But it appears that either the BCCI hadn’t been in touch with MI despite having insisted last month that they would communicate with franchises on players’ injuries or they would make up their mind to pick KL Rahul as captain ahead of Sharma, who is the second highest run-getter for India in ODIs after skipper Virat Kohli among the current players.
MSK Prasad, who was the previous chairman of the selection committee, however, played down the issue.
“What happens is that a report is tabled. Then the question arises: ‘Is he available, or if he is not, when he will be available? These are the things that come into picture. I don’t see anything wrong on part of selection committee. BCCI has not completely ruled them [Sharma and Ishant] out. Their fitness is monitored by BCCI medical team. Nothing wrong on Sharma’s part. He is trying to train and get himself fit,” Prasad told IANS.
“There is a tagline that mentions the BCCI is monitoring the progress of Sharma and Ishant. The BCCI has clearly mentioned that. Earlier, we used to do the same thing. Subject to fitness is what we used to do, only the terminology is different,” said Prasad, a former India wicket-keeper.