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BCCI announces Indian squads for Australia tour, and Rohit Sharma isn’t in it

Captain of the 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) champions, Mumbai Indians, Rohit Sharma has been left out of India’s international squad on their tour of Australia. The tour will kick off on 27 November 2020. The Indian regular opener was expected to play in Australia, so news of his omission from the squad took fans by surprise. However, looking at the facts, it is clear to see why the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) made the decision.

Firstly, and probably most importantly, are Sharma’s fitness concerns. Fitness always bears priority when selecting players for a squad. This is important because, even if a player has an immense volume of talent, that talent may not last very long if their fitness is not up to par. Even though cricket may not require high levels of strength, it does require a lot of stamina and considering Sharma loves to open the batting, he would be expected to stay out the longest. 

Sharma ensuring his fitness levels are up to the level of his playing on the field. Photo credits: Rohit Sharma on Twitter

With COVID-19 putting a pause on sports tournaments, players were struggling to maintain their fitness during the lockdown, and this was evident in cricketers at the start of the 2020 Dream11 IPL. Players were visibly less fit than normal and struggled to get back into the rhythm of the high-intensity T20 format. 

Moreover, Sharma recently suffered a hamstring injury while playing for Mumbai Indians in the IPL in a match against Kings XI Punjab that has seen him sit out to games so far. These surely would have raised some concerns about whether or not the BCCI should have included Rohit Sharma in the squad. 

Photo credits: Arjun Singh/Sportzpics for BCCI

Former Indian cricketer and pundit, Sunil Gavaskar, told Star Sports that it is okay if he misses the limited-overs formats, but India would need him for the tests. However, Mumbai Indians did share a video of Sharma batting in the nets and Gavaskar requested for transparency on his injury and added that he would not be batting in the nets if the injury was serious. 

Sharma’s fitness could only be one of the reasons for his omission from the squads, albeit a major reason. Another possible reason could be his inconsistent form in the recent IPL matches coupled with the vast amount of talent available to the BCCI. 

Firstly, Sharma has been quite inconsistent in the recent IPL matches. In his last five games, he scored an average of just 18 runs per match. Moreover, he has gone above 50 only twice in the IPL so far, which is not good enough for a player of his stature.

Photo credits: BCCI

Coupled with Sharma’s inconsistent form is the vast array of options the BCCI had in terms of batsmen for the squads. Players like KL Rahul, who is currently the best opener in this year’s IPL and holder of the orange cap (most runs), Mayank Agarwal, Manish Pandey and Shreyas Iyer all have proved their talent over and over again. This could have pushed the BCCI to choose other than Rohit Sharma considering his fitness concerns.

The BCCI has stated that they are still monitoring Sharma’s progress, so following Gavaskar’s words, Sharma may be called on later in the tour to play the tests. Physios advised Sharma to hold back during the IPL keeping in mind that the Australia tour is soon after. 

Rohit Sharma has established himself repeatedly as an opener for the Indian side and a leader when he plays for the Mumbai Indians. India will prefer his skill and experience in Australia, but only time will tell if he is called up at some later stage of the tour.

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