Henriques injured and will fly home early
Moises Henriques has become the latest Australian bowler to be hit by injury and take an early flight home. News of Henriques' injury - a tweaked right hamstring picked up in the field during Monday's victory in Mohali - came only a day after Peter Siddle was sent home due to stiffness in his left side, also picked up in Monday's match.
They will be replaced by Victoria all-rounder Andrew McDonald and New South Wales fast bowler Burt Cockley, who will join the squad in time for the sixth ODI in Guwahati on Sunday.
The squad has already lost Brett Lee (elbow), James Hopes (hamstring) and Tim Paine (finger), and was without first-choice players Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Nathan Bracken and Callum Ferguson when the series began.
Henriques himself was a replacement player who joined the group mid-tour when Hopes was ruled out. His departure could mean an ODI debut for either the spinner Jon Holland or the fast bowler Clint McKay, both from Victoria, with Ben Hilfenhaus set to return to the starting line-up for the fifth ODI on Thursday in Hyderabad.
"Moises complained of some discomfort after the fourth ODI in Mohali," team physiotherapist Kevin Sims said. "He had an MRI scan when we arrived in Hyderabad which showed signs of injury to the right hamstring. The medical staff believe the injury will not recover sufficiently for him to participate in the last week of the tour and therefore we have decided he will return to Australia where he will continue his treatment."
McDonald is one of the newcomers in the Australian squad in the last 12 months, having played four Tests. He was very impressive for Victoria in the Champions Twenty20 League in India, taking nine wickets, including a match-winning four-wicket haul against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Cockley is just a season old for New South Wales and in 2008-09, stormed to the top of the state's Sheffield Shield wicket list.
"Andrew played very well for Victoria in the recent Champions League in India, was in very good form in the first Sheffield Shield game, scoring a hundred and bowling impressively on a batsman friendly Adelaide wicket and backing that up with a dominant display in Wednesday night's Ford Ranger Cup match ," Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, said. "We are sure that Andrew will grab his opportunity and perform well in the Australian one-day set up.
"Burt is someone who the National Selection Panel has identified in the last 12 months as someone who could have an impact at international level. He performed well in the recent Ford Ranger Cup game against Western Australia (taking four wickets) and we think he will be well suited to Indian conditions."
The captain Ricky Ponting said he felt for the injured players. "It's disappointing to see these guys go down, because you know how much they want to play and be a part of the series and do the best they can to win games and win series,'' Ponting told AAP. "So it's more disappointing for them moreso than anything. I'm sure everyone who's returned back home would much rather be here with the series as it is at the moment, but we've got what we've got.''
Coach Tim Nielsen applauded the depleted team for performing above expectations. "In the ideal team, we [first] had James Hopes and [then] Moises batting at No. 7 along the line," Nielsen said. "We don't have those players now. The bowling also needs to adjust to the conditions and then we would decide the batting line-up. It is not simple or easy. We have to ensure that we have five bowlers, plus a spare bowler, to ensure one guy doesn't have an off day.
"The most difficult (thing), I suppose, is players getting hurt (so frequently) which means there is a change in the team in every game we have played. Having said that I'm pleased with the way the players have fought hard. The young players have come up to take up different roles."
At least the long-term news for some of the key members of Australia's side is good. The Cricket Australia physio Alex Kountouris said Lee and Clarke were not far away from playing cricket again, while Paine should be able to start training by the end of the month.
"Brett has seen a specialist and CA medical staff in Melbourne," Kountouris said. "He had a scan that confirmed the cause of the pain as being a long-standing bone spur near the elbow joint. It is felt there is no major problem with the joint and we are optimistic that he may be able to resume bowling fairly soon, possibly some time next week.
"Tim Paine saw a hand specialist in Melbourne today and Tim doesn't require surgery to the fractured ring finger of his left hand. He will recommence cricket training in approximately three weeks time. Michael [Clarke] is making good progress and it's hoped he'll play for New South Wales before the first Test against the West Indies."