Virat Kohli is in doubt for the Test series decider between Australia and India that starts on Saturday, with the hosts reportedly rushing an uncapped batsman into their squad as cover.
Multiple Indian media outlets are reporting Shreyas Iyer will fly to Dharamsala and serve as cover for injured captain Kohli.
Kohli remains bothered by the shoulder strain he suffered while diving to stop a boundary on day one of the third Test.
The superstar received treatment in the rooms in Ranchi until day three, when he batted in India’a marathon first innings.
Kohli extended his miserable form in the series with a score of six then took the field as Australia salvaged a draw.
Worryingly for India, Kohli failed to bat in the nets on Thursday. He was restricted to underarm throws during fielding drills.
Kohli is yet to fire a shot with the bat in the series, but the tourists remain rightly wary about his potential to produce a match-winning innings in the fourth Test.
“Every time he doesn’t get runs, he’s closer to that big knock, and being a class player it’s going to be at some stage,” paceman Josh Hazlewood said. “Hopefully, it’s not this next game.”
Kohli’s leadership, aggression in the field and tactical mind would also be sorely missed.
The top-ranked Test side’s fielding standards and body language noticeably dipped when Ajinkya Rahane was calling the shots in Ranchi, while the vice-captain struggled to come up with fresh ideas as Steve Smith marched to 178 not out.
Kohli, who hadn’t tasted defeat at home in his stint as Test captain prior to the series-opening boilover in Pune, would naturally be desperate to play.
But he knows Australia will have no hesitation testing out his injury, especially if the Dharamsala pitch offers as much pace and bounce as the curator is predicting.
“If players have got upper body injuries then sometimes you’re trying to bowl some short balls to them and make them move quickly,” Australia bowling coach David Saker said during the third Test.
Iyer is uncapped at international level but boasts serious form against Australia, having finished 202 not out while batting for India A during the visitors’ only tune-up for the current series.
The 22-year-old hammered the first ball he faced, delivered by Nathan Lyon, for six and proceeded to score with minimal fuss and maximum style.
Iyer claimed after day two of the three-day game was sledged by David Warner and Matthew Wade during his knock.
“A bit of sledging keeps happening from behind, so that also keeps playing into your mind. You have to handle all kinds of pressure,” Iyer said.
“They keep talking: ‘this guy doesn’t know how to play defensive strokes, he can’t defend the ball’
“So I was proving them wrong. I was just focusing on my batting.
“I’ve been to Australia for India A tour, so I’m quite used to it.”