Virat Kohli's injury and conjectures surrounding his possible missing out on the crucial 4th Test against Australia at Dharamsala is the flavor of the day as the two teams are all set to face off one last time in what has been a high-voltage series, both on and off the field. With the possibility of Kohli not being able to play dominating the headlines, India would be an unenviable position of having to go in without their charismatic captain in a match they must win to snatch a series victory that was initially taken for granted.
As things stand, India are now facing a must-win situation on an unknown pitch against rivals who historically have been toughest of competitors on the field and bad losers off it.
With the series being fought as much in the media and press conferences as on the field, Kohli's absence may not be the worst thing for India.
While he has been in the eye of the storm with every controversy, Kohli's on-field show has been poor. He has scored just 46 runs in five innings with an abysmal under-10 average.
Kohli's replacement, 22-year-old Shreyas Iyer has joined the squad in Dharamsala while the captain refuses to commit on his own fitness till later in the evening or on Friday.
Kohli admitted that a call can only be taken by physio Patrick Farhart in the evening.
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."
It is symptomatic of the series that the entire discussion was about Kohli and not the Test, which may not be the best preparation for Team India. With the Australians already talking about a series win, the pressure is squarely on the hosts.
This is best time for a champion side to come forward and show what they are made of.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Abhinav Mukund, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Jayant Yadav.
Australia: Steve Smith (captain), Matt Renshaw, David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscombe, Matthew Wade (wk), Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Steve O'Keefe, Jackson Bird, Mitchell Swepson, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Ashton Agar, Usman Khwaja, Pat
(With PTI inputs)