Here is a quick exercise for you, reader. Spot a crucial difference in the two statements below.

Date, October 23 2020: 

Statement from Mumbai Indians:

Rohit Sharma has suffered left leg hamstring strain during Mumbai Indians’ last outing. Rohit has made good progress over last four days, while the management is taking one day at a time monitoring the recovery process in consultancy with BCCI.

Rohit has been advised rest for the match against CSK today. Kieron Pollard will lead the team tonight.

Date, November 3 2020: 

BCCI president Sourav Ganguly in an interview to PTI:

“We will have to assess him. I don’t know (when he can come back). He hasn’t played so far since the time he has got injured. We want him to recover. It’s the BCCI’s job to get their best players on the park. If he recovers, he plays.

“Yeah, you don’t want him to get injured again. He has a hamstring tear and it will get ruptured again. It will then take longer for him to come back. But yes, there are people working with him.

“The Mumbai Indians physio is working with him. The Indian physio (Nitin Patel) is there. Rohit himself knows that he has got a long career ahead and it’s not just this IPL or next series for him.

“I am sure he is mature enough to do what is best for him.”

The first one, issued by the franchise, refers to Rohit Sharma’s injury as a hamstring strain.

The second one, issued by the BCCI boss (not as an official statement but as an interview to an agency), refers to Rohit Sharma’s injury as a hamstring tear. As such, we do not know if this a case of a quote getting lost in translation or Ganguly is giving an official update that he received from BCCI physios.

Now, not everyone is a fitness expert, so here’s a quick explanation:

Hamstring injuries, such as strains and tears, are common in sports that require either a lot of running or powerful accelerations and decelerations. The hamstrings are comprised of a group of muscles and tendons that extend along the back of the leg from the base of the pelvis to the shinbone. While their primary role is to bend the knee, hamstrings also contribute to the rotation of the lower leg.

A hamstring strain refers to an injury in which the muscle or tendon is stretched or torn. Less severe strains are often referred to as a “pulled hamstring.” A hamstring tear, also known as a rupture, infers a more serious injury.

Now, there are a few unknowns that must be addressed straight away:

  1. Did Ganguly give his opinion about the injury and simply use the wrong term for the injury? Or is he referring to a past injury of Rohit and is worried about a recurrence? That is not clear. 
  2. What did the official report of the Indian team physio say? What did the official report of the Mumbai Indians team physio say? Was there a conflict between the two diagnoses? 
  3. What has prevented the BCCI from issuing an official statement about Rohit’s injury / fitness and the expected recovery time? Did they not have access to the Mumbai Indians fitness report? 

After all these questions were swirling around in the afternoon on Tuesday, when the broadcast began for match No 56 between Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rohit was seen taking throwdowns. A few minutes later, he was running across the field. It became clear he was undergoing a fitness test. Surely, MI were bluffing? On the day Ganguly’s interview was posted about being cautious and not rupturing the hamstring again, surely MI won’t play their captain in a match that they had absolutely nothing to gain from?

Beep. Wrong answer.

Rohit walked out for the toss in Sharjah, opened the batting (though the comeback did not last long) and marshalled his troops on the field later for 20 overs. Though not much was revealed at the toss, Rohit said at the post-match presentation he felt fine.

“I was happy to be back, it’s been a while. I was going through some tough times. I’m looking forward to playing a few more games here, let’s see what happens. Always nice to be on the ground doing what I love to do, very happy about it.

(Asked if the hamstring was completely fine) “Yeah, absolutely.”

From the day his exclusion from the squads picked to tour Australia was announced by the BCCI with minimal detail, miscommunication has reigned supreme. First, Mumbai Indians social media team decided to post photos and videos of their captain returning to practice on the very evening that he was excluded from the squads.

That prompted Sunil Gavaskar to raise the question over lack of transparency (but oddly enough, on the day of Rohit’s comeback, Gavaskar was largely quiet on the issue, just saying he hoped the injury is not aggravated).

In the days after his exclusion, there were reports in the media about the Indian team physio suggesting a rest of two-three weeks while the head coach Ravi Shastri also urged caution, saying he doesn’t want the injury to become more serious. Shastri even went to the extent of saying his own career came to an end because he did not heed doctors’ advice.

Then Kieron Pollard dropped the biggest hint about his captain’s comeback, saying Rohit was getting better and close to a return. But Ganguly’s interview suggested that it was unlikely, only for the biggest twist (yet) in this saga to unfold a few hours later.

As you can see, it is difficult to understand the chronology. And that’s mostly because the only official statement has come from MI (two lines long) and BCCI has kept through its official channels while coach and the board president spoke to the media instead.

If MI were playing cards close to their chest as a strategy, then is the BCCI’s control over this issue minimal? Or is Rohit defying BCCI’s suggestions so as to help his franchise win a fifth IPL title? Will he now be named in the squads to tour Australia and be reinstated as vice-captain, a role that was assigned to KL Rahul? These are just some of the basic questions that we currently have no answer to.

At the end of the day, if you — as an Indian cricket fan — were hoping to have some clarity on this issue as time went on, the answer (to borrow two words from a former Indian captain): Definitely not.

Note: An earlier version of this article mentioned that Mumbai Indians are aiming for a fourth title. The error has been corrected as MI are aiming to win a fifth IPL trophy.