India's premier Test fast bowler Ishant Sharma is expected to undergo a fitness test on 15 February at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, which will determine his participation in the two-match Test series against New Zealand.
Following a lacklustre performance in the ODI series, the Indian team will look to come out all guns blazing in the Test series. And the inclusion of Ishant will surely bolster their chances, considering the impact he has had on the team in the last couple of years.
The Test series starts in Wellington on 21 February, with the second match slated to be played in Christchurch from 29 February.
The visitors are scheduled to play a tour game from 14th to 16th February and if declared fit, Ishant will join the team in New Zealand directly for the opening Test.
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An Indian team management source close to Times of India said:
"Ishant is scheduled to take a fitness test on Feb 14-15. A call on him will be taken after that. There are two ways of determining fitness, one is clinical fitness and one is match fitness. In the clinical test the player is made to go through all the physical tests like running and agility. But match fitness depends on how rusty the player is. Ishant is working very hard and is determined to reach the 100 Test mark as soon as possible."
The lanky speedster had twisted his right ankle while playing for Delhi in a Ranji Trophy clash against Vidarbha. MRI scans revealed that the pacer had sustained a Grade 3 tear in his ankle, which jeopardized his participation for the New Zealand tour.
However, Ishant has shown signs of speedy recovery and has started his rehabilitation process at the NCA, which made the selectors include him in the 16-member squad for the Test series.
The Indian team management will be hopeful of Ishant’s participation especially given the fact that Jasprit Bumrah hasn’t been in the best of form on the New Zealand tour.
Bumrah went wicketless in the three-match ODI series, and the experience of Ishant will surely come in handy for India if Bumrah fails to regain his rhythm in time.