Australia's hopes of retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy have been dealt a major blow, with fast bowler Mitchell Starc flying home due to a stress fracture in his right foot.
Starc suffered the problem during Australia's loss in the second Test in Bengaluru and after the pain failed to disappear in the days following the match, he was sent for scans on Friday, which revealed the fracture.
"Mitchell experienced some pain in his right foot during the second Test in Bangalore which unfortunately had not subsided a few days after the Test as we had hoped," team physiotherapist David Beakley said.
"We made the decision to scan his foot in Bangalore this morning and unfortunately it has revealed a stress fracture. Subsequently, this means Mitchell will be unavailable for the remainder of the tour of India and will return home to Australia to start his rehabilitation."
Australia's selectors are yet to name a replacement player for Starc, but as the backup fast bowler in the squad, Jackson Bird looms as the most likely inclusion for the third Test, which begins in Ranchi next Thursday.
Starc will be the second player to fly home in the wake of the Bengaluru Test, after allrounder Mitchell Marsh was ruled out of the remainder of the series due to a shoulder injury. Seam-bowling allrounder Marcus Stoinis will join the squad as a replacement for Marsh.
Although spinners have been more successful than fast men so far in this series, Starc picked up important wickets in both Pune and Bengaluru. He also showed his value in Asian conditions on last year's tour of Sri Lanka, when he claimed a remarkable tally of 24 wickets at 15.16 from three Tests.
Australia's selectors have plenty of options to replace Starc, including the leading Sheffield Shield wicket-taker of the summer, Chadd Sayers, the in-form Western Australia left-armer Jason Behrendorff, and Pat Cummins, who this week took eight wickets in his first Shield match for nearly six years.
It is expected that Starc will be available for the Champions Trophy later this year.