India pacer Ishant Sharma has recovered from his ankle injury and will join the India squad in New Zealand. The 31-year-old had earlier been provisionally included in the 16-man squad, with his participation subject to fitness clearance.
While there hasn’t been any official confirmation of Ishant’s status, Cricbuzz understands he has made sufficient recovery and could even stand a good chance of featuring in the Indian XI for the opening Test against New Zealand.
India have four more days before that opening game at the Basin Reserve (on February 21), and on the basis of their performances in the warm-up game in Hamilton, Umesh Yadav and Navdeep Saini look like very promising candidates to step in for the veteran in case the team management feels that he might need a little more time to be deemed fully match fit.
Ishant had suffered an injury to his right ankle during Delhi’s Ranji Trophy fixture against Vidarbha last month. He had twisted his ankle while appealing for an LBW decision against visiting captain Faiz Fazal and had to be helped off the field. Since then, he has been in Bengaluru recuperating with physio Ashish Kaushik at the National Cricket Academy (NCA).
Ishant, with 96 Tests under his belt now, forms a crucial one-third of India’s fast bowling triumvirate alongside Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. On his last tour of New Zealand in 2014, he picked 15 wickets across two Test matches even though India lost the series 1-0.
Meanwhile, other injured players like Hardik Pandya, Rohit Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar are on the road to recovery, although there isn’t any specific timeframe set for their comeback.