Fast bowler Mohammed Shami has been ruled out of the rest of India's tour of Australia. It is understood Shami has suffered a fracture on his right forearm, which was revealed after he underwent scans immediately after the Adelaide Test ended. The news will come as a crushing blow for India, who lost that Test inside three days after being bowled out for their lowest Test total ever.
The BCCI is yet to make an announcement on the development. Shami's absence means the Indian fast bowling attack is now left with only Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj. Both Saini and Siraj are uncapped in Test cricket.
As for Shami's replacement in the squad, the team management has to pick one from the trio of players: Kartik Tyagi, T Natarajan and Shardul Thakur. Incidentally neither of these three fast men were part of the original Test squad. Both Natarajan and Thakur stayed back after the white-ball leg of the Australia tour to join Tyagi as net bowlers.
Shami, who batted at No.11, sustained the injury while fending awkwardly at a short delivery from Pat Cummins on Saturday. After being taped on his right forearam Shami decided to bat on, but then signalled he could not continue and walked back to the dressing room. He didn't return to bowl either in the fourth innings.
At the post-match presentation, India captain Virat Kohli said Shami was in "pain" and could not even raise his bowling hand. In addition to Shami's absence, India will be without Kohli, who will miss the rest of the series as he returns home on paternity leave.
Who should replace Shami in the Test squad?
The Indian team management has a difficult choice to make on who should replace Shami in the Test squad. Thakur, who plays for Mumbai, is the most experienced seamer among the reserves, with 206 wickets at an average of 28.55 in first-class cricket. Natarajan, a left-arm seamer, forced his way into India's limited-overs squads for the Australian tour on the back of his impressive performances in the IPL for the Sunrirsers Hyderabad. In first-class cricket, Natarajan, who represents Tamil Nadu, has limited experience having picked up 64 wickets in 20 matches at 27.03.
Twenty-year-old Tyagi was part of the India Under-19 side that made the World Cup final in South Africa earlier this year. A right-arm fast bowler, Tyagi played for the Indians in the first warm-up match against Australia A recently, going wicketless. He has played two matches for Uttar Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy, picking up three wickets.
The Ishant Sharma question
Shami's injury might also force the selectors and the team management to reflect on their decision to not to include Ishant Sharma in the Test squad despite him being declared fit by the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in November.
Sharma, who picked up an injury during the IPL while playing for the Delhi Capitals, went to the NCA in Bengaluru in September and was ruled fit around November 19. However, in its assessment report to the BCCI and team management, the NCA noted that Sharma would need to build on his bowling workload in order to be completely fit to be selected for the Test series.
In his first media briefing on the eve of the Australia tour, in November, even Kohli wondered why Sharma was not completing his rehab with the rest of the squad which would have kept him in contention for the Test series.
It is understood the BCCI wanted to ensure Sharma was completely fit and ready in the long-term as India are scheduled to play a four-match Test series against England at home soon after the Australia tour. India will then tour England for another five-Test series in mid-2021.
On November 26, the BCCI said although Sharma had "completely recovered" from the side strain he sustained during the IPL, he "is building up his workload in order to achieve Test-match fitness" and he was "ruled out" of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo