India in Australia 2011-12 December 18, 2011

Uncertainty remains over Ishant's fitness

ESPNcricinfo staff

The uncertainty around Ishant Sharma's ankle remained as he didn't bowl during India's training session on the eve of their three-day match against the Cricket Australia Chairman's XI. He was present with the team at the Manuka Oval, though. He played the football game that India play before their training sessions, and took part in light fielding drills too, but did not bowl.

Ishant has been advised two-days' rest by a specialist in Canberra, and is a sure non-starter for the tour game that begins on December 19. But the match is not a first-class fixture, which means he can be drafted in on for the second or third day if he recovers.

Ishant bowled only 5.3 overs in India's first tour game, walking off twice during that brief spell. The Indian camp said that day that Ishant was anyway going to bowl only six overs, and when the strapping on the ankle came loose with three deliveries left in the quota he felt no need to come back. Zaheer Khan and Rohit Sharma later said the injury wasn't serious. It has now emerged that Ishant saw a specialist and has been prescribed strengthening exercises and rest.

There is a possibility that the Indian team management might ask for a cover, just in case Ishant can't make it for the Boxing Day Test. However, that decision is not expected until late on Sunday or Monday.

Ishant had originally hurt the ankle in England. It was earlier suggested that he would need surgery on the ankle, but found out that it healed with physiotherapy at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore.

India have had a horror run with fast bowlers' fitness on overseas tours. New Zealand 2008-09 was the last time they didn't have to deal with an injury to fast bowler. In Sri Lanka 2010, Zaheer was ruled out before the start, and Sreesanth was injured during training on the first day of the tour. Later that year, in South Africa, Zaheer missed the first Test. This year Zaheer got injured on the first day of Test cricket in England, and didn't bowl further in the series. India lost all three first Tests. They managed to come back and level series in Sri Lanka and South Africa, but were whitewashed in England.