Bengaluru, February 13: Ishant Sharma will undergo a fitness Test at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) on Saturday (February 15). It is imperative for the 31-year-old pacer to pass the test as it is mandatory for him to join the Indian squad ahead of the first Test against New Zealand at Wellington starting from February 21.
Ishant, who has taken 292 wickets from 96 Tests, had suffered a Grade 3 tear on his ankle during the Ranji Trophy game between Delhi and Vidarbha last month. Since then he is at the NCA recuperating from the niggle and has since then started bowling. Ishant is included in the Test squad for the NZ series but his participation is subject to him clearing the fitness Test.
Meanwhile, Ishant has company at the NCA in team-mate Hardik Pandya, who has been ruled out of the New Zealand tour after failing to recover sufficiently from a back surgery.
Pandya went through a batting and bowling session at nets on Wednesday (February 12) and is keen to make his comeback through the ODIs at home against South Africa in March on the IPL towards the end of next month for defending champions Mumbai Indians.
The 26-year-old consulted spinal surgeon James Allibone in the United Kingdom and underwent a successful surgery in October last year to treat an acute lower-back injury and has remained out of action since.
He last played for India during the T20I series against South Africa, taking part in the third match in Bengaluru. He has not played Test cricket since the Southampton match against England in September 2018. The back problem had kept him in and out of the national team since mid 2018.
Returning from the surgery, Pandya was last month pulled out of the India A team's tour of New Zealand after failing mandatory fitness tests in Mumbai. The selectors had picked him in the squad without testing him in the Ranji matches.
The all-rounder had also taken part in a practice session with the Indian team before an ODI against Australia in Mumbai last month.
Pandya's fitness is important for India's T20 World Cup plans as his medium pace bowling and explosive hitting power gives the team the required balance.