Cover for Ishant will be decided in next 24 hours

Cover for Ishant will be decided in next 24 hours

Cover for Ishant will be decided in next 24 hours

Sharma, despite the team management's best attempts to downplay his left ankle injury, is unlikely to play in the three-day match against Cricket Australia Chairman's XI on Monday.

Even if he is declared fit ahead of the first Test, the Delhi bowler could be undercooked for the rigours of Test cricket, having played no competitive match since the final Test against the West Indies in Mumbai last month.

Team India would be averse to repeating the mistake of the England tour where Zaheer Khan hardly bowled in the tour opener against Somerset and later showed up with a hamstring injury after bowling a few overs on the opening day of the first Test at Lord's in July.

Zaheer did not play after that on that tour as India were whitewashed 0-4.

India could expect the other four pacers -- Zaheer, Umesh Yadav, Vinay Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun -- to shore up the attack but Ishant's absence, if it happens, would be a serious blow.

Sharma bowled merely five overs in the two-day match against Cricket Australia Chairman's Eleven on Thursday before retiring to the dressing room due to "discomfort" in his left ankle. He had consulted a local doctor after that.

Zaheer gave a miss to the two-day game and his return in the forthcoming match next week is eagerly anticipated. He took part in two Ranji Trophy matches before earning the nod of selectors as the 17th member of the squad for the Australia tour. Zaheer took seven wickets in 43 overs in those two Ranji matches.

Everyone is hoping injury wouldn't be an issue with him this time around for he has never completed a full tour of Australia. In 2003, he played in two Tests while the last time around in 2007-08, he only played in Melbourne.

He did capture 10 wickets from the three Tests but his average was almost 40.00 for each wicket.

Zaheer, on this tour, has been seen only once bowling in the nets. He bowled for 20-odd minutes on Thursday. He didn't turn up for the optional nets at the Manuka Oval today.