Mumbai: Shikhar Dhawan appears to be a doubtful starter for the first Test against South Africa, starting January 5, due to an ankle injury, which may force India to announce a last minute replacement.
Before Indian team's departure, Dhawan was seen entering the team hotel limping with his left-ankle heavily strapped.
Dhawan was accompanied by physio Patrick Farhart and has undergone for an MRI scan.
"Shikhar Dhawan's ankle is being assessed. The physio is yet to give any report to the national selectors. As of now, he is travelling with the team. However, it can't be ascertained whether he will be available for the first Test match or not," a senior BCCI official said on the condition of anonymity.
If Dhawan is rendered unfit for the first Test, then in- form KL Rahul is expected to open the batting with the dependable Murali Vijay. India in all probability will call a replacement and that might be a toss-up between Gautam Gambhir and Abhinav Mukund.
As per the selection pattern of the Indian teams whenever there has been an injury concern, the fourth opener should be Tamil Nadu's Abhinav Mukund, who had scored 82 in his last Test appearance in Sri Lanka.
However, Gautam Gambbhir’s chances cannot be ruled out, especially after his impressive show in the Ranji Trophy. He scored three hundreds, helping Delhi advance to the tournament’s final after a decade.
Wah Cricket has learned, the former India captain is a front runner to fly to South Africa. The left-hander will open for Delhi in Ranji Trophy final, starting Friday.
Parthiv Patel is capable of opening the battng in case need arises, but the team might not risk him as he is there as the back-up wicket-keeper.
The three-Test series begins from January 5.