India captain Virat Kohli has said that the entire episode surrounding Rohit Sharma's injury has been "very confusing", exacerbated by a "lot of uncertainty and lack of clarity". Speaking on the eve of India's ODI series opener against Australia, Kohli said that ideally both Rohit and fast bowler Ishant Sharma should have been in Australia to complete recovery from their respective injuries which would have allowed them to play in the Test leg of the tour.
Both players were ruled out of the first two Tests of the four-match Border-Gavaskar Trophy, which is scheduled to start with the day-night Test in Adelaide on December 17.
Speaking on the situation around Rohit's injury, Kohli said that initially the senior batsman was ruled out when the squads for Australia tour were picked in October.
"Before we had the selection meeting in Dubai, we had got an email two days before that, which said that he is unavailable for selection [as] he has picked an injury during the IPL," Kohli said at the virtual media briefing on Thursday in Sydney. "And it mentioned there was a two-week rest and rehab period. The pros and cons and the implications of the injury has been explained to him and he understood that. And he was unavailable for selection. That was the information we got on mail before the selection meeting. After that he played in the IPL, so we all thought he would be on that flight to Australia, which he wasn't. And we had no information whatsoever on the reason on why he is not traveling with us."
Having sat out four matches for the Mumbai Indians during the league phase of the IPL, Rohit made a successful return and made a half-century in the final to help the Mumbai Indians clinch an unprecedented fifth IPL title. However, he was not part of the Indian contingent that flew directly from Dubai to Sydney on November 11.
Instead, Rohit returned to Mumbai to cater to what ESPNcricinfo understands were personal reasons. Last week he flew to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru to work on his fitness. Incidentally, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly had told the Week, an Indian magazine, that Rohit had been "70% fit".
According to Kohli, the Indian team management was recently informed that Rohit would be next "assessed" on December 11 at the NCA, six days before the first Test. "And after that the only other information officially we have received on mail is that he is in the NCA and he's been assessed and he'll be further assessed on December 11. So from the time that the selection meeting happened to the IPL finishing now, when this email came about his assessment at the NCA, there has been no information, there has been lack of clarity. We have been playing the waiting game on this issue for a while now, which is not ideal at all. So, yeah, it's been very confusing. There has been a lot of uncertainty and lack of clarity around the situation."
'Would've been helpful if Rohit and Ishant did rehab in Australia'
Kohli also agreed that it would have been ideal for both Rohit and Ishant to complete their rehab in Australia, similar to wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha's case. Saha, who was originally named in the Test squad, hurt both his hamstrings in the first week of November, while playing for the Sunrirsers Hyderabad in the IPL. However, the selectors retained Saha after receiving the nod from the BCCI's medical team, which was confident that he would regain fitness in time for the Test series, where he is one of the two wicketkeepers along with Rishabh Pant.
"Yeah, [it] definitely would have increased the chances of both of them playing Test matches," Kohi said. "Someone like Saha, who also had an injury during the IPL and is here and doing rehab with the team, so we are aware of his progress and he is on the right path to make sure that he is fit and available in time to play the Test series. And same would have been the case with Ishant and Rohit as well - it would have given them a chance to get themselves fit and be available for the start of the Test series.
"Yeah, right now there is so much uncertainty on whether they are going to be able to make it, if they are going to be able to make it at all or not. It definitely would have been very helpful in them getting fit if they were here and doing the rehab just like Saha is with the team to get fit for the Test series."
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo