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India have suffered a selection headache on the eve of the second Test against England with a hamstring injury ruling out Shardul Thakur. Captain Virat Kohli confirmed during his press conference on Wednesday that Thakur had a left hamstring injury and he is likely to be ready for the third Test*.
Thakur arrived for training on Monday at Lord's and spent time in the gym alongside the India physiotherapist Nitin Patel and trainer Nick Webb. Thakur, who was India's fourth seamer during the first Test in Nottingham, picked up four wickets - two in each innings. Doubts surfaced about Thakur's fitness when he only sent down 13 overs in England's second innings - the fewest of India's quicks - although he did not show any evident unease on the outside.
The key question now for India is who replaces Thakur. With conditions in London forecast to be warm and dry - with temperatures in the early 20s for the entire duration of the Test - India have the choice of either picking a second spinning allrounder in R Ashwin or a fourth seamer in Ishant Sharma or Umesh Yadav, considering reverse-swing could be in play along with the seam movement and conventional swing that are usually on offer in English conditions.
At the end of the Trent Bridge Test, which ended in a rain-affected draw, Kohli said he was happy with the template India had picked, with four fast bowlers and one spin-bowling allrounder in Ravindra Jadeja.
The complication with playing a fourth seamer other than Thakur, however, is it will leave India with a long tail, with no reliable lower-order contributor to be found among Ishant, Umesh, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah or Mohammed Siraj. Apart from his swing bowling, Thakur's selection at Trent Bridge also hinged on his batting at No. 8.
On Monday, at their first training session ahead of the second Test, Ashwin did not bat, but Ishant had a complete session. It was Ishant's first time back in the nets after playing in the World Test Championship final against New Zealand in June. At Trent Bridge before and during the Test, Ishant was seen going through several fitness tests under the watch of Patel and Webb, even though insiders maintained there was no injury. On Monday, though, Ishant bowled without any concern for at least an hour and then had a long batting session, receiving throwdowns from the India batting coach Vikram Rathour.
*1212 GMT, August 11, 2021: The story was updated after Virat Kohli's press conference