In what comes as a big double jolt for the Indian team, both Shikhar Dhawan – their limited overs opener – and Ishant Sharma – a leading member of the pace attack in Tests – are out of the tour of New Zealand due to injuries. While Dhawan injured his shoulder during the third ODI against Australia on Sunday, Ishant has a torn ankle.
The announcement about Sharma's condition was made by Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) general secretary Vinod Tihara. "Ishant Sharma's MRI report shows a grade 3 ankle tear and it is serious. He has been advised six weeks of rest and rehabilitation. It is indeed a big blow. Six weeks is the maximum but a minimum three weeks is must," Tihara stated.
The injury to the right-arm fast-medium bowler was contracted during a Ranji Trophy match between Delhi and Vidarbha. Luckily for the Indian team, they have a good fast bowling group which can withstand the loss of one player. With Jasprit Bumrah back to full fitness and Mohammad Shami raring to go, the Indian attack does look impressive.
In the absence of Bumrah, Umesh Yadav provided good cover during the home series against South Africa. With the conditions in New Zealand known to provide assistance to swing bowlers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar also comes into the reckoning. However, he himself is trying to recover from an injury that kept him out of the ODI series against Australia.
Another man who could play a key role in New Zealand for Virat's team is all-rounder Hardik Pandya. While his batting in the longest format has been inconsistent, his bowling is very handy when the ball is moving. He picked up a vital 5-wicket haul in 2018 during the third Test of the 5-match series.
But Pandya too is in the process of recuperating from an injury. Currently, he is undergoing rehabilitation
India's tour to New Zealand would consist of 5 T20Is, 3 ODIs, and 2 Tests. The reason for this tour being lop-sided in favour of the shortest format is the World T20 coming up later this year. But the Indian team would be hungry for success in the other two formats also. In their last tour to the same country, they had lost the ODI series 4-0 and the Test series 1-0.
This was in 2014 when Mahendra Singh Dhoni was in charge of the Indian team. Now, Virat Kohli is leading the Indian side and it boasts of one of the best bowling line-ups in the world. Surely, the Indian captain would like to add New Zealand to his list of triumphs.