New Delhi, January 21: Injury stuck India ahead of the New Zealand tour as opener Shikhar Dhawan was ruled out with a shoulder with a shoulder injury, while senior pacer Ishant Sharma is certain to miss the Test series due to an ankle tear.
India play New Zealand in all the three formats with the first of the five T20s starting in Auckland on January 24 followed by the ODI and Test series.
Even before the news about the Delhi duo's injuries, team India were already concerned with the possible absence of the likes of Bhuvneshvar Kumar, Hardik Pandya and Prithvi Shaw.
Shikhar ruled out
Dhawan injured his left shoulder while fielding during India's third ODI against Australia in Bengaluru on Sunday (January 19). He was taken off the field in the fifth over of the game at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium and didn't come out to bat.
Dhawan didn't travel with the Indian side which left for Auckland on Monday (January 20). The selection committee will name his replacement later. As India A squad is already in New Zealand to play a shadow tour, someone from that squad could be picked up by the selectors. Mayank Agarwal or Prithvi Shaw could be Dhawan's replacements.
Ishant to miss Tests
Ishant was declared unfit for the Tests starting February 21 owing to an ankle tear sustained during a Ranji Trophy game on Monday.
"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," said Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) general secretary Vinod Tihara on Ishant's fitness status.
Ishant, playing for Delhi, had twisted his ankle on his follow through while bowling against Vidarbha on Monday. The statement on his fitness came from the Delhi and District Cricket Association but the Indian cricket board is yet to issue any update on his injury.
"It's a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in BCCI as we will again do his MRI to ascertain the degree of tear and decide on his rehabilitation," a BCCI source said.
Fellow Delhi pacer Navdeep Saini is likely to replace the 96-Test veteran in the squad.
Ishant was in the middle of his second Ranji Trophy this season, having played the opening home game against Hyderabad last month. The 31-year-old is an integral part of arguably India's best ever pace attack comprising Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav.
Will Hardik Pandya make it?
All-rounder Hardik Pandya is set to head to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) and start his rehabilitation under the watchful eyes of Rahul Dravid and his team of trainers from Tuesday (January 21).
Talks have also revolved on whether or not Pandya will be ready for the ODI series against New Zealand and it looks unlikely that he will be ready for the Kiwi challenge. The all-rounder is expected to be back for the series against South Africa in March.
In case Hardik fails to make it for the NZ tour, the selectors may look at the hitting prowess of Suryakumar Yadav since the ODIs in New Zealand will be an extension of T20s in the World Cup year.
Bhuvneshwar out after surgery
Pacer Bhuvneshwar underwent a sports hernia surgery in London and will begin his rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) after returning to the country.
He was not named in the T20 squad for the upcoming tour of New Zealand due to the injury. The 29-year-old, who has played 21 Tests, 114 ODIs and 43 T20Is for India, missed the home ODI series against the West Indies days after returning to action against the same opposition in the T20 format.
Prithvi Shaw makes a comeback
Shaw who has been plagued by injury announced his comeback with a 100-ball 150 during India A's second practice game against New Zealand XI in Lincoln on Saturday (January 18).
Shaw's knock will certainly excite the selectors when they pick the squad for the Test series in New Zealand. The first Test will get underway on February 21 at the Basin Reserve in Hamilton and the second match is scheduled to be played at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch, starting February 29.