Pacer Umesh Yadav was on Thursday (31 December 2020) ruled out of the remainder of the series against Australia due to the calf injury he sustained during the Melbourne match and the Indian team management is likely to prefer Shardul Thakur over left-arm pace sensation T Natarajan for the third Test.
According to sources, senior pacer Yadav, who missed the third Test due to a calf muscle tear, is heading home for rehabilitation.
The third Test begins in Sydney from January 7.
"Umesh will have to go for an extensive rehab. He has left for India," a BCCI source privy to developments in Australia told PTI on Thursday.
"While people are excited about the brilliant progress shown by T Natarajan, we mustn't forget he has played only one first-class match for Tamil Nadu. And Shardul has been a seasoned domestic red-ball pacer for Mumbai," the source added.
"Shardul was really unfortunate that his Test debut against West Indies ended abruptly due to injury even before he could bowl an over. He has been shaping up well and might replace Umesh in the playing XI."
The final call will be taken by the head coach Ravi Shastri, stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane and bowling coach Bharath Arun after reaching Sydney.
Shardul has so far played 62 first-class games and has 206 wickets to show for his efforts.
Another aspect that India would like to address ahead of the third Test is a long tail that has affected the team.
Shardul has six first-class half centuries and during his stint with the national team in white-ball games, he has proved to be a decent batsman.
"Obviously the next few training sessions will be important and that's why the final call is likely to be taken in Sydney," the source said.
As far as Yadav is concerned, he is expected to head off to National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru for extensive rehab programme.
The 33-year-old had hobbled off the field after suffering the injury during the third day of the Boxing Day Test.