Australia's hopes of retaining the Border-Gavaskar trophy have been dealt an almighty blow, with spearhead Mitchell Starc to return home because of a foot injury.
Starc was sent for scans on Friday morning in Bangalore. The left-armer has been diagnosed with a stress fracture and will play no further part in the four-Test series, which is level at 1-1.
Team medicos are upbeat the issue is not serious and Starc will be fit for June's Champions Trophy.
The express paceman's setback has thrown Australia's plans into chaos for the third Test, which begins on Thursday in Ranchi.
Selectors are yet to settle on Starc's replacement in the touring party. The obvious temptation will be to summon Pat Cummins or James Pattinson, who boast immense talent but have been beset in recent years by a series of injuries.
Cummins just completed his first Sheffield Shield match in six years, earning man-of-the-match honours, but the injury-prone quick had been told to focus on a return in the 2017-18 Ashes.
Pattinson, one of four players suspended amid the 'homework-gate' scandal during Australia's 2013 tour of India, boasts more subcontinent experience than Cummins and is in the midst of his third-straight Shield game.
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