India's Test vice-captain Rohit Sharma was on Monday ruled out of the entire three-Test series against South Africa as his old left-hamstring injury resurfaced during the team's net session in Mumbai where he also took a hit on his hand.
India A captain Priyank Panchal will be Rohit's replacement opener in the Test series.
"Team India Test vice-captain Rohit Sharma sustained a left hamstring injury during his training session here in Mumbai yesterday. He has been ruled out of the upcoming 3-match Test series against South Africa. Priyank Panchal will replace Rohit Sharma in the Test squad," BCCI stated in a press release.
The Board has not announced a stand-in vice-captain but it is expected that KL Rahul is the front-runner for being Virat Kohli's deputy during the Tests.
Other contenders could be Rishabh Pant and Ravichandran Ashwin considering that Ajinkya Rahane has been removed from the role with his place in the eleven not being assured. The Tests will wind up on January 15 followed by three ODIs, scheduled to begin on January 19 in Paarl.
The 34-year-old Rohit also sustained a hit on his hands at the Mumbai nets while taking throwdowns from Raghavendra aka Raghu.
"Yes, Rohit did suffer an injury on his hand but even after that he had batted. So we can presume that hand injury isn't serious. But thereafter, it seemed the old hamstring problem resurfaced once again and it might take some time before he is fully fit and available.
"They are trying to sort it out. Hamstring injuries normally take four weeks which could effectively rule him out of Test series," a senior BCCI source told PTI on Monday.
As of now, the extent of Rohit's injury is not very clear. It is not known whether it's a strain which is a less serious injury or a tear, which will have to be graded.
"There are some issues but the medical team is trying to sort it out," a source close to the cricketer told PTI.
The BCCI is yet to share the details of his scan report which will ascertain the degree of the injury.
"Any hamstring injury, even the lowest grade takes a month to heal with rehabilitation sessions. In Tests we have Mayank Agarwal ready to open with KL Rahul, who could potentially be the vice-captain.
"And now we have Priyank Panchal also as cover. We would be hoping that he is fit and ready for the ODI series," the source added.
It is learnt that Panchal reported at the team hotel this evening.
"Panchal has been asked to report at the Mumbai team hotel tonight. He is there as a cover for Rohit. Also because he recently played in South Africa and scored runs, he was asked to join," an official associated with the India A team informed.
Panchal is no greenhorn as he has 100 first-class matches under his belt with 7011 runs, including 24 hundreds.
He has been a part of a very successful Gujarat team that won the Ranji Trophy under Parthiv Patel and has been an India A captain.
He was fighting for the reserve opener's slot with Abhimanyu Easwaran but pipped the Bengal man as the latter batted at No.3 in the A series.