India's Ishant Sharma
India's Ishant Sharma. Image Credit: AP

New Delhi: Senior India pacer Ishant Sharma is doubtful for Test series against New Zealand after he suffered a Grade 3 tear on his right ankle while playing for Delhi in their Ranji Trophy encounter against Vidarbha at the Arun Jaitley Stadium.

The 31-year-old picked up the injury in the fifth over of Vidarbha’s second innings — his third. Ishant was seen writhing in pain and had to be taken off the ground as he needed medical attention. Ishant returned figures of 3/45 in Vidarbha’s first essay.

Ishant underwent an MRI scan on Monday and the report on Tuesday showed that he has a tear. This puts serious doubts on his participation in the two-Test series. While the first Test is set to be played from February 21 to 25, the second Test is from February 29 to March 4.

The Indian team has in recent times seen quite a few injury issues and the trio of Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shikhar Dhawan are at the National Cricket Academy at present. While Pandya will complete his rehab after undergoing back surgery, Bhuvneshwar underwent surgery for sports hernia and Dhawan injured his shoulder in the last ODI against Australia on Sunday.

Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah also returned to the squad during the series against Sri Lanka after undergoing rehabilitation for a stress fracture on his back post the Test series against West Indies.

Team India’s assistant trainer Yogesh Parmar has stayed back in Bengaluru and will be working closely with the trio of Pandya, Kumar and Dhawan. Speaking to IANS, sources in the team management said that Parmar didn’t fly with the rest of the squad as he will work closely with the three Indian players over the next 10-15 days at the National Cricket Academy (NCA).

Bhuvneshwar travelled to London on January 9 and underwent a successful sports hernia surgery on January 11. The pacer returned to India and commenced his rehabilitation at the NCA.

Interestingly, the pacer had been at the NCA on and off post the World Cup as he looked to gain 100 per cent fitness. But the experts at the academy failed to spot the hernia despite conducting a number of tests and just two games into his return to the national side — against Windies — Bhuvneshwar started complaining of discomfort. A test by the Team India medical team revealed that the fast bowler had sports hernia.

In Pandya’s case also, it was Parmar who had travelled with the all-rounder to UK for the back surgery. And while the player decided to undergo rehab under Delhi Capitals trainer Rajnikanth Sivagnanam, Parmar was the one who was coordinating with the player and keeping an eye on the progress he was making.

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President Sourav Ganguly recently made it clear that all contracted players must head to the NCA for rehabilitation and that has seen the trio land at the academy to get the necessary fitness certificate to return to international cricket after their rehab is complete.