Former skipper Sunil Gavaskar urged the Indian selectors and team management to consider flying in Ishant Sharma to Australia if fit in case fellow quick Mohammad Shami takes no further part in the Test series.
Shami picked up a blow to his hand while batting late on Day 3 of the first Test in Adelaide and went through scans after India's eight-wicket loss. Reports have emerged that the first-choice quick has suffered a fracture.
Ishant, on the other hand, was earlier ruled out of the tour with a side strain which he picked up at the sidelines of IPL 2020 in UAE. The experienced pacer was going through rehab at the NCA in Bangalore and though he fully recovered, India decided not to take him down under due to quarantine regulations that wouldn't have allowed him to take part in the pre-series warm-up games, potentially resulting in workload issues and further injury scare.
With Ishant out, and Shami also an unlikely participant, the bowling attack is not at full-strength for the marquee series, with one of Mohammad Siraj or Navdeep Saini now set to debut at the MCG with the Boxing Day Test (starting December 26) and shoulder the pace attack's burden along with Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav.
"It (Shami injury) is a big problem. he has the knack of taking wickets, he can shock the opposition with his bouncers and yorkers. If he is not playing, then it's going to be trouble for India," Gavaskar told Sports Tak.
"If Ishant Sharma is fit, I am suggesting to send him to Australia now. If he is capable of bowling 20 overs in a day, the management should send him to Australia on tomorrow's flight so that he can be ready for the Sydney Test."
"I am saying India should look at taking a chance because there is no proper back-up now. Navdeep Saini has the potential to pick wickets but the way he bowled in the warm-up matches, it doesn't look like he will be able to trouble the Australia batsmen," he added.
Given Ishant didn't directly shift bio-secure bubbles from UAE to Australia like his teammates, even if India decide to take a u-turn on their fast bowler, him taking part in the third Test in Sydney from January 7 is well out of equation.
Upon arrival, Ishant will have to go through a strict 14-day isolation period in which he won't be allowed to train as per COVID-19 protocols.
Opening batsman Rohit Sharma, however, is already down under after finishing his rehab for hamstring injury in India and will be available for the New Year's Test after completing his quarantine and training in the week leading upto the Test.