Middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane has been ruled out of the fourth and fifth Tests against England with a finger injury, while fast bowler Mohammed Shami is an uncertain starter for the Mumbai Test, beginning Thursday.
Karnataka batsman Manish Pandey replaced Rahane in the squad, while Shardul Thakur was brought in as back-up for Shami, who has a sore knee. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is likely to be the first-choice replacement in the XI for Shami, while Karun Nair is likely to take Rahane's place.
The BCCI said Rahane had suffered "an avulsion fracture on his right index finger" after getting hit by a ball during a practice session on the eve of the Mumbai Test. He managed only 63 runs in five innings in this series. The board also said that Shami's fitness was being monitored and a decision on his inclusion in the XI would be taken on the morning of the match.
Shami has had trouble with his leg since the start of the series, when he was seen clutching his hamstring on the first day in Rajkot. The team management, however, said he was merely suffering from cramp and he continued to play the remainder of that Test and those that followed in Visakhapatnam and Mohali. Shami was especially potent with reverse-swing, taking 10 wickets at an average of 25.20.
If Shami doesn't make it, India are almost certain to play Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who took a five-wicket haul in the last Test he played. That was why Kohli wasn't too worried about Shami's availability.
"If you see, whoever has stepped in has given match-winning performances," he said. "You speak about Bhuvi, he has come in at St Lucia once and in Kolkata once, and both times he has picked up five wickets, and he has been the match-winner for us. I am not worried because the guys sitting outside are waiting for opportunities. It is not like that they are not looking forward to playing, which is I think a great sign for the team and that is why whoever has played at any stage has given those performances for us. As I said they are pretty keen to step on to the field to grab the opportunity with both hands."
Pandey, Rahane's replacement in the squad, had himself hurt his finger while playing a Ranji Trophy game in November. He returned to action last week, making 75 and 58 against Saurashtra. Thakur, meanwhile, has been a more consistent presence this season, claiming 13 wickets in six matches, including a six-wicket haul against Bengal last week. He had been picked in the 17-man squad for the four-Test tour of the West Indies in July-August, but did not get a game.