Dubai: From one bio-bubble to another - this is going to be the story for Virat Kohli & Co. Less than 24 hours after the IPL final, members of Team India converged at the Habtoor Palace Hotel from where they departed for a two and-a-half month gruelling tour of Australia.
It was around the last week of October that Indian team’s Head Coach Ravi Shastri and his support staff quietly flew into Dubai and entered the bubble - alongwith two of their Test specialists Cheteshwar Pujara and Hanuma Vihari - who were not engaged in the ongoing IPL.
The rest of squad, across all three formats, checked into the team hotel as and when their engagements finished in the IPL. A conspicuous absentee was Rohit Sharma, the Mumbai Indians captain, who has been rested for the white-ball leg of the Australia tour but will be a part of the Test squad. While no official information was forthcoming, Sharma is expected to hit the National Cricket Academy (NCA) and complete rehabilitation as he ‘injured’ his left hamstring during the IPL before leaving for Down Under.
Wriddhiman Saha, the Test wicketkeeper who suffered a hamstring injury while playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the closing stages of the IPL, has accompanied the squad as the team management felt there was sufficient time for him to recover ahead of the red-ball affair. The first of the four-Test series will be a day-night affair in Adelaide, starting from December 17.
The tour of Australia begins with the white ball fixtures as the ODIs would be played on November 27, 29, and December 2 at Sydney Cricket Ground and at the Manuka Oval in Canberra respectively.
The first T20I will also be played in Canberra on December 4 and the remaining two on December 6 and 8 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
With India sitting at the top of the points table in the World Test Championship and Australia second, it is expected to be a thrilling contest. Earlier this week, the BCCI announced that skipper Kohli will be missing the last three Test matches in the upcoming series against Australia as he has been granted paternity leave and as a result, he will be featuring in just the opening Test.
The second one is the Boxing Day Test, scheduled at the Melbourne Cricket Ground from December 26 to 30; the third one will be at Sydney from January 7-11 and the final Test at the Gabba from January 15 to 19.