London - India middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane has been
ruled out of the last two Tests against England with a fractured finger while
fast bowler Mohammed Shami is also doubtful for the fourth match at the
Wankhede Stadium, beginning on Thursday.
The 28-year-old Rahane, who has had a modest series so far,
was hit by a ball during Wednesday's practice and sustained an avulsion
fracture on his right index finger, the India cricket board said in a media
Batsman Manish Pandey has replaced Rahane in the squad, with
paceman Shardul Thakur named as a back-up for Shami, who has a sore knee and
will be assessed before the start of the penultimate match of the five-Test
Seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who took six wickets in his last
Test against New Zealand in September, is expected to start if Shami is ruled
out, with opening batsman Lokesh Rahul returning to the side after missing the
third test in Mohali with injury.
The hosts lead the series 2-0 and captain Virat Kohli was
confident the replacements would do the job for his team.
"Currently, (I'm) not really (worried) because if you
see whoever has stepped in has given match-winning performances," Kohli
told reporters on Wednesday.
"You speak about Bhuvi, he has come in at St Lucia once
and in Kolkata once, and both times he has picked up five wickets and he has
been the match winner for us.
"I am not worried because the guys sitting outside are
waiting for opportunities."
After losses in the second and third Tests, the touring
England side travelled to Dubai to unwind during the eight-day gap between the
third and fourth Test.
At the end of the five-Test series, England will head home
for Christmas before returning to India in January to play three one-day
internationals and the same number of Twenty20 matches.
Kohli said the break had also been refreshing for his side
but added that he would like it to be reciprocated when they tour England next.
"We didn't ask for the gap, it was part of the schedule,"
said the 28-year-old. "Make sure when we go there we also have eight days'
gap after the three tests and (a) 25-day gap between ODIs and Tests."