Umesh Yadav ruled out of Test series with calf injury


He had limped off the field during the second Test at the MCG

Umesh Yadav has been ruled out of India’s last two Tests against Australia with a strained calf muscle, ESPNcricinfo has confirmed. Replacements for both Yadav and Mohammed Shami, who got injured in the first Test, are expected to be named shortly.

Yadav’s withdrawal adds to a growing list of absentees for India, who came into the tour without Ishant Sharma, lost Shami to an arm fracture, and are without Virat Kohli for the last three Tests of the four-match series. They came to Australia without Rohit Sharma too, but the opener has since rejoined the squad after his two-week quarantine and is available for selection for the third Test.

Yadav had walked off with a strain in the middle of his fourth over on the third day of the MCG Test, and took no further part in that game, having gone for scans immediately. India had already handed a debut to Mohammed Siraj in that game, and might have been left thin in the bowling department if not for Ravindra Jadeja’s return to the XI following injury concerns of his own.

Of India’s much vaunted fast-bowling attack, widely considered as the country’s best ever, only Jasprit Bumrah is currently with the team. Despite the notable absences, India have had three top bowling innings out of four in the series so far, with R Ashwin in particular rising to the occasion in both Tests. The series is currency tied at 1-1 with the Sydney Test a week away.

In terms of replacements for Shami and Yadav, India currently have Shardul Thakur, T Natarajan and Kartik Tyagi available as nets bowlers in Australia, while Navdeep Saini is already part of the squad. Saini has travelled with the team for over a year and is among the most capped fast bowlers for India A, alongside Siraj, over the last two years.

Thakur is the only capped player of the replacement options available and was also the only fast bowler outside the main quartet – and Hardik Pandya – to have made India’s XI in the 18 months before this series began. He did, however, go off with injury himself on debut against West Indies, and hasn’t played since.

Natarajan, who had come in as a replacement for the injured Varun Chakravarthy for the T20I leg of India’s tour and stayed on as a nets bowler after, is in line to break into the Test squad. In a stop-start first-class career, he has played 20 matches for Tamil Nadu and taken 64 wickets at 27.03. Should he break into the XI at Sydney, he will be India’s first left-arm seamer in Test cricket since 2014, which was Zaheer Khan’s last Test in Wellington.

Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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