The unanswered questions around Rohit Sharma
As the Mumbai Indians captain skips IPL matches due to injury, his exclusion from the India squads to Australia raises further eyebrows
Though still on top of the table, Mumbai Indians could suddenly see themselves staring down the barrel as Rohit Sharma, the regular skipper, is unfit. He is undoubtedly a big factor and has been a match-winner for MI over the years. Mumbai now faces the challenge of winning their remaining games without the Hitman, as his return to the field looks unlikely. Rohit has been the face of the franchise for years now, and to play in his absence would be a new feeling to the MI squad. They will have to show the world they are a team who do not depend on one man.
Mumbai do not want to find themselves in a desperate position, like Royal Challengers Bangalore usually do when AB de Villiers or Virat Kohli don't fire. Rohit is an automatic choice in the playing XI of any team he's a part of. But this was not the case when the India squads for the upcoming Australia tour were announced. To the shock and dismay of Indian cricket fans, the Hitman was not included for any of the three formats.
It is well known that he is suffering from a hamstring injury, which has forced him to miss the last two IPL matches for Mumbai Indians. Kieron Pollard, the big hitting West Indian, captained the side in his absence, and things seemed to be going well after MI demolished MS Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings by 10 wickets on 23rd October. But MI were swept away in their second game without Rohit, courtesy a Ben Stokes special, who smashed an unbeaten 107 off 60 balls and guided Rajasthan Royals to an easy 8 wicket victory.
The inclusion of top order batsman Mayank Agarwal in all the three squads to tour Australia further raised eyebrows, given that Mayank is suffering from an injury as well and has not played for Kings XI Punjab in their past few matches.
Rohit was seen practising in the nets in a video uploaded by MI on social media. This raised speculations that he is fit enough to play competitive cricket. The BCCI has said that they are closely monitoring Rohit's injury, but the same has not been said in Mayank's case.
Promising young leg-spinner Rahul Chahar, who also plays for MI, has not been considered for the national side either, with Kolkata Knight Riders leg-spinner Varun Chakravarthy given the nod. This will not do good for the young leggie's confidence, and he will have to muster up all his courage and skill to show the selectors that they have missed a trick by ignoring him.
Things don’t look good in Mumbai Indians camp, as was on display in their last performance as well. Former India great Sunil Gavaskar has already called out the MI management saying that a little bit of transparency regarding Rohit Sharma's future will help everybody.
Theories have sprung up saying that now that Mumbai Indians are in a comfortable position and almost guaranteed a playoff spot, the skipper is being rested so he can remain fresh for the knockout stage. But Rohit's absence from the India squads indicates long-term absence from the game, and so chances of him playing a game in the playoffs look bleak too. Suddenly the Mumbai Indians have a lot of challenges looking down at them, and to still win their remaining matches with such unprecedented negative events surrounding them would be a commendable task. It would speak volumes about just how good they are as a side.