Disaster for Aussies as Starc ruled out of India tour
AUSTRALIA'S hopes of retaining the Border Gavaskar Trophy have been dealt a catastrophic blow with No.1 strike weapon Mitchell Starc ruled out of the rest of the tour with a foot injury.
Starc is the most dangerous fast bowler in the world, particularly on sub-continental pitches he has made his speciality, and it's hard to imagine a more devastating injury setback for a team already on the back foot after losing the second Test in Bangalore.
Australia is yet to nominate who the replacement quick will be, with Starc on his way back home to have treatment for a stress fracture in his right foot.
It's understood Starc should recover in time for the one-day Champions Trophy in June, but Australia's bid to create drought-breaking history in India now looks like an almighty challenge.
"Mitchell experienced some pain in his right foot during the second Test in Bangalore, which unfortunately had not subsided a few days after the Test as we had hoped," said CA physio David Beakley.
"We made the decision to scan his foot in Bangalore this morning and unfortunately it has revealed a stress fracture.
"Subsequently, this means Mitchell will be unavailable for the remainder of the tour of India and will return home to Australia to start his rehabilitation."
Jackson Bird is the third fast bowler already on tour and has performed strongly in the nets.
It would be expected he would slot straight in, however, CA may be tempted to roll the dice on calling up Pat Cummins who has just returned to first-class cricket.
CA has taken a long-term view with Cummins, and rushing him back to Test cricket so quickly would be a risk.
However, he is one man who could adequately replace the game-breaking influence that Starc has in Test cricket.
Starc sparked the collapse in Pune that laid the platform for Australia's victory, and in Bangalore he also broke through with back-to-back wickets on the last day that gave his side hope of achieving a fourth-innings chase.
The left-armer has also been sensational with the bat down the order and his lower-order hitting in Pune was also critical.
CA said selectors would appoint a replacement in due course, with the third Test to kick off in Ranchi on Thursday.