Rohit Sharma limped out of the ground on 18 October during the double Super Over between Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab. He returned to the pitch after a 16-day layoff in the defending champions' final league match of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday.
In these 16 days, Rohit has kicked up a storm in Indian cricket, pitting the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) directly against Mumbai Indians and reinforcing the idea that decision making in the Indian cricket board is more opaque than ever.
On 23 October, five days after the KXIP game, Mumbai released a statement stating Rohit had "suffered left leg hamstring strain" and the management was "taking one day at a time monitoring the recovery process".
On 26 October, the All-India Senior Selection Committee led by Sunil Joshi announced the squads for the Australia tour with Rohit missing from the teams for all three formats — T20I, ODI, and Test.
The only update the BCCI provided on the injury was a line at the end of the press release, "The BCCI Medical Team will continue to monitor the progress of Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma."
The Indian cricket board refrained from mentioning the type of injury Rohit had suffered, the seriousness of it, or even the basic information as to when he picked it. The direct inference, however, was that the hamstring injury Rohit suffered against KXIP was of a serious nature. Serious enough to rule him out of a Test series which only begins in mid-December.
But it's here that things started getting interesting. On the same night of the team selection, Mumbai Indians' Twitter handle made a series of tweets showing Sharma batting in the nets, giving the impression that the player was close to being fully fit.
Ishant Sharma, who was also kept out of the squads for Australia due to a rib injury, traveled to National Cricket Academy (NCA) for his rehabilitation but Rohit stayed back, another hint that the right-handed batsman's injury was not a long-term concern.
Things have become absurd since. India coach Ravi Shastri in an interview said the player's medical report stated that he "could be in danger of injuring himself again".
BCCI president Sourav Ganguly on the morning of Mumbai's match against Sunrisers said that Rohit has a "hamstring tear" which could get ruptured again and that it would take "longer for him to come back."
But surprise, surprise, Rohit was back on the same day, playing in Mumbai's last league game.
One can feel that the whole episode is far from being over but has already raised some very pertinent questions for Indian cricket that needs to be answered immediately for its well being.
Firstly, Rohit's omission from India squads for a tour that only begins later this month while he continues to play in the IPL has once again rekindled the club vs country debate. While other cricketing nations have been victims of players prioritising IPL over national commitments, India largely have been unaffected. So, is it the first case of an Indian player going against BCCI's directives to play in the IPL?
If Ganguly feels Rohit would take a long time to return then it would not be wrong to assume that BCCI may have advised him to rest and rehab instead of playing in IPL. After all, a hamstring tear is a much different injury than a strain.
IPL teams may not be bound to follow the cricket board's fitness directives, the BCCI president's comment that Rohit "is mature enough to do what is best for him," only highlights the gravity of the situation.
Rohit, however, put up a defiant or brave front, depending on how you read this situation, after featuring in Tuesday's game as he declared that his hamstring is "absolutely fine."
If indeed everything is absolutely fine, then questions should be raised over BCCI medical team's assessment as the board's overall functionality continues to get hazier under the regime of Ganguly and general secretary Jay Shah.
When you lose your white-ball vice-captain and Test opener to an injury, the press release announcing the squads ought to have more details than a customary line that "the situation is being monitored". It was the first selection meeting for former India cricketer Joshi and Co after their appointment. Should BCCI have not arranged for a press conference, even if virtually, to respond to any questions that may arise after selection calls for a tour which would mark the return of international cricket for India amid the COVID-19 pandemic?
Shastri and Ganguly have given some details about Rohit's injuries in their respective interviews but is it their job or that of the selectors?
We must also not forget that just a few weeks back Anshuman Gaekwad, a member of the Apex Council which is responsible for governing the affairs of BCCI, wrote a mail to the cricket board complaining about lack of transparency.
Apart from not being transparent to fans, BCCI's internal affairs also seems to be suffering from poor communication. It would be in the best interest of Indian cricket and for BCCI to gets its functioning in order to avoid more uncomfortable sagas.
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Ganguly was kept busy by the conduct of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the UAE from mid-September to early November.
India captain Virat Kohli stated that "confusion and lack of clarity" has led to the team management playing a "waiting game" on Rohit Sharma's availability which is not ideal
The non-selection, despite his prolific run in domestic cricket and the IPL, extended Suryakumar's wait for an India cap.