Jadeja set to join India squad in Nagpur ahead of Australia series

Shreyas Iyer, however, is yet to get a clearance from the NCA as he continues his recovery from a back issue

Nagraj Gollapudi
Ravindra Jadeja put his fitness to test in a Ranji Trophy match for Saurashtra against Tamil Nadu  •  PTI

Ravindra Jadeja put his fitness to test in a Ranji Trophy match for Saurashtra against Tamil Nadu  •  PTI

Ravindra Jadeja, who tested his match-fitness with a successful return to action in the Ranji Trophy, is set to join the India Test squad in Nagpur this week ahead of the first Test against Australia, which begins on February 9. Shreyas Iyer, however, is yet to get a fitness clearance as he continues his recovery from a stiff back at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru.
Playing for Saurashtra in their final group-stage match against Tamil Nadu last week in Chennai, Jadeja bowled 41.1 overs and bagged a seven-for in the second innings, restoring in him the confidence he said he was after, having not played any cricket since undergoing surgery in his right knee in September. Jadeja, who was included in India's Test squad subject to clearing fitness tests, said after that performance that he was hopeful and "good to go" for the Australia series.
To monitor Jadeja's fitness closely, one of the BCCI's physios travelled with him. Jadeja is now back at the NCA to wrap up his final round of fitness tests. The one-off Test against England in Birmingham in July 2022 was the last time Jadeja played a Test match. He experienced discomfort in his right knee, which has troubled him over the years, while playing in the Asia Cup in late August.
The knee surgery meant Jadeja missed out on selection for the T20 World Cup. Although he was named in the squad for two-Test tour of Bangladesh, his selection was subject to fitness, and he was eventually ruled out. With his rehab getting extended, he was also ruled out of the white-ball home series against Sri Lanka and New Zealand. But having got the green light from the NCA, the selectors felt Jadeja could play in the Ranji Trophy to determine his fitness for the Australia series.

Iyer in race against time to prove fitness

Iyer, who was ruled out of the recent ODI series against New Zealand with a stiff back, has to spend a little more time at the NCA before getting his fitness clearance. It is understood Iyer was given an injection recently at the NCA to help combat swelling in his lower back.
If he gets his clearance, Iyer is a frontrunner for a middle-order slot against Australia, as an incumbent who averaged 101.00 in India's last series, the two-Test tour of Bangladesh in December. Other contenders include Suryakumar Yadav, who is yet to make his Test debut, and possibly Shubman Gill in case India open with Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul.
It is learned that Iyer remains optimistic and is on course towards being declared fit, but the BCCI's medical staff want to be certain he has no pain in his back before he is cleared to travel to Nagpur and join India's preparatory camp, which begins on February 2.

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo