Australia captain Pat Cummins has returned home due to a serious family health issue, but is expected to be join the squad in India for the preparation for the third Test at the Holkar Stadium, Indore, starting March 1.
Australia are 2-0 down in the four-match Border-Gavaskar series with the second Test in Delhi finishing on Day Three after Australia batters' capitulation to hand India an easy six-wicket victory.
Cummins was Australia's only pacer in the second Test, but did not bowl a single over in the fourth innings as the hosts chased down the target of 115with relative ease. If Cummins were to miss the third Test in Indore, vice-captain Steven Smith will be handed the responsibility to lead the side.
Smith has lead Australia twice in Cummins' absence - at the Ashes 2021-22 after Cummins was identified as someone who was in close contact with someone who was covid positive. He was also forced to miss the day-night Test against the West Indies last year due to a quad injury.
Cummins who was appointed the One-Day International (ODI) captain recently is expected to lead the side in the three-match series against India, starting March 17.However, a rest for the fast bowler to manage his workload cannot be completely ruled out.
Australia also have plenty of fast bowling cover for the remainder of the Tests, with the likes of Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Scott Boland and the uncapped Lance Morris waiting on the wings. All-rounder Cameron Green too is expected to play the second half of the series after recovering from a finger injury.
Australia however sweat over the fitness of opening batter David Warner, after he suffered a hairline fracture on his left elbow while batting in Delhi. He was also hit on the head during the innings that led to a concussion with Matt Renshaw replacing him in the second innings. There were concerns over Todd Murphy as well, who had a bit of side soreness, but the off-spinner managed to bowl close to seven overs on Sunday (February 19).
Fellow spinner Mitchell Swepson who also flew back home for the birth of his first child is also expected to link up with the squad ahead of the third Test. Australia flew in Matthew Kuhnemann in as Swepson's replacement and the left-arm spinner made his Test debut in Delhi, getting Virat Kohli as his maiden wicket.