Injured fast bowler Ishant Sharma is likely to be fit for India’s first Test of the Australia tour in December. That is the opinion of the National Cricket Academy (NCA), located in Bengaluru, where Sharma travelled to after being ruled out of the IPL due to a muscle tear.
ESPNcricnfo understands that the NCA, which is headed by former India captain Rahul Dravid, noted in a letter to the BCCI that Sharma, subject to his rehab going well, is expected to start bowling from November 18.
Sharma is expected to then gradually increase his workload, with the NCA optimistic that he would be match fit for the Day-Night Test in Adelaide, scheduled to begin on December 17.
The NCA, however, has pointed out that Sharma would need to play at least one practice match before he is declared ready to bowl in the Tests.
A final decision on Sharma is likely on Monday, when the Indian selection committee is expected to announce the squads for the Australia tour comprising three ODIs, three T20Is and four Tests. A formal itinerary has not been announced but as per the schedule submitted by Cricket Australia to the BCCI, the tour will start on November 26 and end on January 19.
One key question that both the BCCI and the selectors will need to factor in is whether Sharma, if picked, travels to the UAE and flies out to Australia along with the other members of the Indian team after the end of the IPL on November 10. Strict travel and biosafety guidelines have been put in place by Cricket Australia in coordination with the Australian government and the various state governments due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Both the selectors and the Indian team management would want Sharma to travel to Australia, two years after India became the first Asian country to win a Test series in the country. This is the second injury Sharma has suffered in 2020, having missed the second Test against New Zealand back in February due to an ankle injury.
Sharma is the most experienced fast bowler currently playing for India. He is three matches short of becoming only the second Indian fast bowler to play 100 Test matches, after Kapil Dev.