Fast bowler Ishant Sharma and batsman Rohit Sharma have been ruled out of the first half of India's four-Test series against Australia later this year.
Ishant and Rohit are recovering from a rib and hamstring injury, respectively, sustained during the 2020 Indian Premier League.
“Rohit was never going to play the white-ball leg of the tour, we needed to know how long he needed to rest, but you can't afford a long period of rest,” said India head coach Ravi Shastri, prior to the confirmation both had been sidelined from the opening two Tests.
“If he's going to play red-ball cricket in the build-up for the Tests, as with Ishant, they need to be on the flight within the next four to five days. If one can't, it's going to be tough talking about selection for the Test.”
Opportunity for Siraj
The absence of Ishant will put plenty of onus on fellow fast bowler Mohammad Siraj. He hasn't been capped at Test level, but has been named in the squad.
Siraj is relatively inexperienced at international level, having collected one ODI and three T20I appearances since 2017. He was in solid form for the Royal Challengers Bangalore during the IPL 2020.
“We have a fabulous five,” Shastri was quoted as saying by Sportstar.
“Umesh Yadav has the experience. Navdeep Saini is young and fast. Jasprit Bumrah one of the best in business. Mohammed Shami is raring to go. Siraj is an exciting prospect. You put up runs on the board and watch these fast bowlers hunt the opposition. They can beat Australia in their own den.”
Australia and India will contest three ODIs and as many T20Is from 27 November to 8 December 2020. Four Tests will follow in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
Tendulkar on Smith Threat
Former India captain Sachin Tendulkar, meanwhile, is anticipating a tough battle between the touring seamers and Australian batsman Steven Smith.
Smith currently occupies first position in the International Cricket Council's rankings for Test batsmen.
“Smith's technique is unconventional. Normally, we tell a bowler in Test matches to bowl on and around off-stump or maybe fourth-stump line,” Tendulkar told PTI. “But for Smith, because he shuffles, maybe that line moves further away from off-stump by four to five inches.
“One has to aim between an imaginary fourth and fifth stump for Steve to nick one. It's just a mental adjustment of line, more than anything else.”