Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Even as India stayed away from training in a bid to stay fresh in the middle stretch of a long tour, and more importantly to not exhaust themselves before the World Cup, one India player went through a stern workout in the heat of Perth. Rohit Sharma, who has been out with soreness in his hamstring, was out for a fitness test, which means India are desperate to get him back on the park as soon as possible without risking his World Cup prospects.
It is a tricky position for India to be in. They have no momentum going into the World Cup, they are not clear about their combinations, and in this scenario they can't afford to take it easy with Rohit, which could otherwise have been the case.
At 38 degrees, it was a pleasant afternoon by Perth standards, but it wasn't the day on which to run up and down, go zig-zag around the cones, and just keep going through a fitness test for half an hour with hardly a break. In an empty WACA Ground, Nitin Patel, India's physio, gave Rohit that test. Rohit was exhausted by the end of it - even during it - but he didn't seem to be feeling the offending hamstring at all. India don't share fitness and injury details, but the way Rohit went over to take a look at the pitch didn't suggest a batsman who was not going to play on it.
If Rohit does make his comeback with India still a chance to make the final, it gives them some elbowroom to play around with their combination. He had only just looked to settle the opening issue when his injury and Shikhar Dhawan's complete lack of form and confidence coincided. In the past Dhawan has gained from a break in cricket, but with only seven batsmen in the squad, India can't even leave Dhawan out even if they might want to.
Rohit will want to build on the century in Melbourne before going into the World Cup. It has been a strange two years for him. He succeeded as an opener in the Champions Trophy in the middle of 2013, followed it up with a double-century at home, but struggled in South Africa and New Zealand. It coincided with an ordinary run in Tests. Doubts ensued over his opening credentials in ODIs too, but then he injured himself even before he could try attempting an encore in the England ODIs.
The injury layoff was longer than expected, and Ajinkya Rahane seemed to embed himself in Rohit's absence even as the incumbent said he liked that position. Rohit reclaimed that position with another double-century at home, but the real concern was away. Just when he seemed to have answered this concern with possibly his most accomplished knock, he injured himself again. He, and India, have been waiting since then.