MSK Prasad, India's chairman of selectors, has added to the intrigue around the non-selection of Ravindra Jadeja in the Perth Test by saying Jadeja was "absolutely fit" when picked for the Australia tour. He neither confirmed nor denied if he was apprised of Jadeja's fitness by the team management.
India went into the Perth Test without a spinner, a selection that was widely criticised by former players, including Sunil Gavaskar. Virat Kohli said he picked four quicks because the conditions demanded that, and that even a fit R Ashwin would have struggled to make it to the XI. However, coach Ravi Shastri said Jadeja was not picked because he had not been 100% fit. Shastri said Jadeja had taken an injection just before he flew to Australia, and four days after landing in the country. He also said Jadeja was only 70-80% fit in Perth before going on to add he would be picked in Melbourne if he is 80% fit. Jadeja was named in India's XI for the Boxing Day Test.
"On the eve of any selection meeting, the selection committee is given a fitness report of all the players," Prasad told reporters in Melbourne. "In that report, Jadeja was absolutely fit. So we picked him. After we picked him, he went and played Ranji Trophy also, he bowled 60 overs [64, against Railways]. So there is no question of him being unfit at the time of selection."
Prasad was asked if he was aware of Jadeja taking the injections before and during the tour, but he was non-committal. "Yes, it is a process," Prasad said when asked if he was aware of the first injection. "Whenever a health issue comes up, we have a group in which it is being placed."
Asked about the second injection, Prasad said: "All that is looked after by the physio, and they have very clearly given it in the statement."
The statement being alluded to is the BCCI media release, which said Jadeja was given injections on November 2 and November 30. However, whenever the BCCI updated the media on the fitness status of players, Jadeja was never mentioned. Even when asked if all other players were fit, when there were doubts around Ashwin and Rohit Sharma, there was no response.
The diagnosis and handling of injuries by India has come under fair bit of criticism. Prithvi Shaw, who had twisted his ankle in the warm-up game, stayed around the team for two Tests before he was sent home, which arguably denied Mayank Agarwal acclimatisation time. Agarwal is set to open the innings in Melbourne. In England, Bhuvneshwar Kumar aggravated an injury in an ODI right before the start of the Test series. He is yet to play a Test after that. Wriddhiman Saha, who according to Prasad, missed out on England selection because of a thumb injury, has now sat out the whole year with what actually was a pretty serious shoulder injury.