When approaching the 100 tests, the 'careful' Ishant Sharma withdraws from the opening game of the Ranji Trophy in Delhi

NEW DELHI: veteran runner Ishant Sharma, who is four games below the 100 test milestone, has chosen to skip the initial rounds of Delhi Ranji Trophy matches as of December 9.

Ishant's name was missing when Delhi announced its squad, led by Dhruv Shorey, on Wednesday afternoon. Ishant had been training with the Delhi team until Tuesday before he was unavailable for the match. TOI has learned that it is likely to go to National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore.

The leadership of the Indian team, as he learned, is careful to preserve his main pacemakers before the tour of New Zealand in February.

We were informed that the Indian Cricket board (BCCI) didn't release him to play Ranji Trophy for now. We were just told that he is unavailable. He's probably going to NCA to train and look after his body. We have not been told when he will be available to play," Delhi chief selector Atul Wassan He told TOI on Wednesday.

Sources said the 31-year-old bowler "doesn't want to risk it" this close to playing 100 Tests. Ishant has been very involved with Delhi Cricket over the last few years after losing his spot in India's limited-overs team, turning out for them whenever he has been off national duty. He even turned up for Ranji games when he was left out of the playing XI in home Tests.

He has been playing for 12 years. Now he distrusts the workload. He plays at full speed every time he plays for Delhi. He is currently at the best moment of his career. You want to play beyond 100 tests for India and keep this form. He has informed the management of the Delhi team not to mark his plans this season completely around him, sources close to the management of the Delhi team said.

Ishant has released 136 overs in Test Cricket in 2019. However, Ishant is likely to play a couple of Ranji games to practice a little.

India does not play a test match until February, when they travel to New Zealand, where they will play a series of two games. According to the ICC Future Tours program, the next test after New Zealand will be in Australia in December 2020, where Ishant is likely to play his 100th test. India 'A' will have a 'shadow tour' in New Zealand before The series starts and Ishant is likely to be part of that series to get in shape.