Umesh Yadav ruled out of Tests with calf muscle injury
Indian pace spearhead Umesh Yadav has been ruled out of the remaining Tests against Australia due to calf muscle injury. The 33-year-old, who limped off the field on Day 3 of the Boxing Day Test, left for India on Wednesday. The fast bowler will now aim at recovering in time for the England series. Notably, Shardul Thakur is likely to replace Yadav in XI.
Despite grabbing the rhythm in the second innings, Umesh started limping over while completing his follow-through. Eventually, he went off the field. It was later reported that he complained of pain in his calf while bowling, and was assessed by the BCCI's medical team.
A source in the know of developments said Umesh will undergo rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy. "His scans came in and he will miss the series. There was no point in holding him back and it is better that he returns to the country and undergoes rehab at the National Cricket Academy (NCA). He left on Wednesday night," the source said.
The hole in the Indian pace attack has proliferated with the recent spate of injuries. Now, Team India will be without Test regulars Umesh, Mohammed Shami, and Ishant Sharma for the rest of the series. However, India have plenty of resources in the arsenal. Besides Mohammed Siraj, they also have Navdeep Saini on the bench, who has the ability to clock over 145 KPH.
Recent reports also suggest that India might rope in T Natarajan as Umesh's cover. The left-arm seamer, who impressed in the white-ball games, could earn a maiden Test call-up. Notably, Natarajan broke into the national side after traveling as a net bowler on the tour. "With limited options available, the management can ask for Natarajan to be added to the squad," the source added.
It is understood that the Indian team management is likely to prefer Shardul Thakur over Natarajan for the third Test. The experienced Shardul owns 206 scalps in First-class cricket from 62 matches at 28.55. However, the final call will be taken by head coach Ravi Shastri, stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane and bowling coach Bharat Arun upon reaching Sydney.
Taking a cue from the Sydney Test of India's previous tour Down Under (2018/19), India could also go with two pacers and three spinners. In that Test, Shami and Bumrah were the only two pacers, while Jadeja and Kuldeep operated as the specialist spinners. Meanwhile, Hanuma Vihar also delivered a few. Interestingly, Kuldeep took a five-for in the first innings.