Dharamsala: Indian captain Virat Kohli was rendered a highly doubtful starter for the fourth and final cricket Test against Australia, a scenario that has put the hosts under immense pressure on the eve of the decider of the bitterly fought series.
With the high-voltage rubber locked at 1-1, things couldn't have got worse for India as their captain admitted that he is not hundred percent fit going into the match, starting on Saturday, with a threat of "aggravating the injury in the field" looming.
The pre-match statement was kind of a giveaway that Kohli's chances of playing are dim in a match where his presence as a leader is required the most. While Kohli the batsman had a nightmare of a series, the absence of a quality batsman like him can prove to be a game-changer unless his replacement Shreyas Iyer fires big time.
Kohli did bat at the nets today but admitted that a call can only be taken by physio Patrick Farhart in the evening. The India camp probably doesn't want to give away any psychological advantage to the opposition ahead of the decider. Perhaps that was also the reason that the skipper, even though doubtful, came for the mandatory pre-match media conference.
Asked how he felt at the nets, Kohli said: "It's very different from competition, that's one thing. Something that I experienced in Ranchi is that when you have reactive movements, the main magnitude of your injury comes out.
"Those are the things that we have to keep in mind. The physio wants to give it a bit more time till I can test myself and probably we will take a call later tonight or tomorrow before the game. We will have to give it that much time more to make a call with the physiotherapist."
When he was asked a more direct question about the element of risk involved, Kohli said: "The physio can explain better. I don't know the magnitude of the risk. All I know is that if I go through fitness test, I will take the field."
The Indian captain's replacement, Iyer, arrived in the morning and joined the training late. Iyer had a net session that was closely monitored by coach Anil Kumble and Kohli, who also had a chat with the Mumbai youngster.
An aggressive batsman with all the strokes in his repertoire, Iyer's penchant for playing the cut and pull makes him a good choice for Dharamsala where there would be pace and bounce.
In the event of Kohli missing out, Ajinkya Rahane would lead the team.