New Delhi: It's still good four days to the start of the penultimate Test of the five-match India-England series. But India, despite enjoying a 2-0 lead, has got themselves in a bit of trouble as persistent injury problems continue to plague the team ahead of the Mumbai match.
Few days ahead of the Mohali Test, Indian selectors had picked the squad for the remaining three matches. Nothing untoward happened for India, except a niggle to wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha, who missed the win at Mohali.
But for the Mumbai Test, which starts on December 8, India are likely to face issues in opening slot thanks to regular Murali Vijay's continuing struggle with his back spasm. Even if he plays, he is likely to struggle.
This is in addition to the existing injury issues to Saha, Lokesh Rahul and Mohammed Shami.
Shami, somehow, has got cover with the drafting of Bhuvneshwar Kumar. But there's no back-up for the openers, as of now.
In the absence of Rahul, Saha's replacement Parthiv Patel did well by scoring 42 and an unbeaten 67 in the Mohali Test. And with Saha still not fully fit, the Gujarat keeper is expected to keep his place. That covered one opener.
If Vijay's condition worsens, then there will be a crisis for India, with no back opener. Only other batsman in the current squad who has had experience of opening an innings is Cheteshwar Pujara.
But promoting Pujara will expose India's fragile looking middle order.
Besides skipper Kohli, and up to some extent Ravichandran Ashwin, none of the middle order Indian batsmen managed to make an impression in the series so far. Yes, Ravindra Pujara did well at Mohali, but his will still be considered an one off.
In the bowling front, Shami has been an stand-out bowler for India. Despite struggling with fitness, the 26-year-old sent down over 100 overs so far in this series. What if he fails the match fitness Test?
Skipper Virat Kohli, a strong believer in tactical flexibility, will find it tough selecting his XI this time.
India Squad: Virat Kohli (c), Parthiv Patel (wk), Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Karun Nair, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar