BCCI president Sourav Ganguly has said that Shubman Gill will be replacing Rohit Sharma for the Test leg of the New Zealand tour, which will commence with the first Test in Wellington from February 21. The second Test, scheduled in Christchurch, begins on February 29.
In a brief, informal chat with the media on Monday evening, outside the BCCI's headquarters in Mumbai, Ganguly confirmed Rohit's injury, said he had approved the Test squad, and that Gill was going to be Rohit's replacement. Till midnight on Monday, the BCCI had not announced the Test squad. It is understood that the board was still awaiting final approvals, which might mean from BCCI secretary Jay Shah, who usually signs off on the media releases. Shah, as per PTI, was en route to New Zealand on Monday.
Also it could not be ascertained what exactly Ganguly meant when he said Gill was going to be Rohit's replacement. Did he mean Gill was now going to be part of Indian Test XI considering the Punjab batsman was part the squad in the series against Bangladesh, the last Test outing for India?
Gill does have the form to increase his chances of making his Test debut. Over the weekend, he cracked a double century for India A in the first unofficial Test against New Zealand A. He was picked by the selectors in the Test squad for the first time during the home series against South Africa after KL Rahul, had fallen out of favour due to his dip in form over the last two years.
The BCCI has delayed announcing the Test squad despite the selectors having discussed it at the meeting on January 12. It is understood the selectors had more or less finalised the squad but wanted to wait on the form and fitness of some of the key players. One certainty on that day who became doubtful a few days later was fast bowler Ishant Sharma, who hurt his ankle in a Ranji Trophy match while playing a home match for Delhi.
Although there were strong doubts about Ishant making the New Zealand trip with six weeks rest recommended, it is believed that the fast bowler was recuperating rapidly at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. It is understood that Ishant, who is four matches short of reaching the 100-Test landmark, had started to bowl during training steadily.