England received a boost as they flew to India today for this month’s Test series when it was confirmed that the hosts will be without Rohit Sharma and two other first-choice batsmen for the opening matches.
Rohit, who suffered a thigh injury during last month’s one-day series against New Zealand, is definitely out of the first two Tests and is a doubt for the rest of the five-match series.
Opening batsmen Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul have also been left out of India’s initial 15-man squad with thumb and hamstring ailments respectively.
Seamer Ishant Sharma has been recalled in place of Bhuvneshwar Kumar following his recovery from injury, while all-rounder Hardik Pandya is in contention for a debut when the series begins in Rajkot on 9 November.
England won 2-1 in their last Test series in India four years ago but go into this meeting with the world’s No1 ranked side reeling from a first ever Test match defeat to Bangladesh at the weekend.
The absence of Rohit, who averaged second highest of India’s batsmen in their 3-0 Test series win over New Zealand, means that veteran Gautam Gambhir is expected to keep his place at the top of the order.
Gambhir, 35, made his first Test appearance for more than two years against the Black Caps.
England are set to be without stalwart seamer James Anderson for the start of the series as he battles back from a shoulder injury, though it is hoped he could return for the third Test.