The groin injury that saw David Warner limp off the field midway through Australia’s second ODI against India isn’t as bad as first feared, but the Aussie opener is still in doubt for the upcoming Test series.
Warner has avoided surgery on his injured groin but is now racing against the clock to play in the first Test of the summer, starting in less than three weeks in Adelaide.
'NO EXCUSE': Fans fed up with 'disgraceful' cricket farce
‘NON-EXISTENT’: Security mocked over comical pitch invasion
Warner went down in Sunday night's ODI series-clinching win with scans confirming a strain that will keep him out of Australia’s white-ball matches - with three T20 matches to follow Wednesday’s final ODI.
The left-handed opener has been replaced in the Twenty20 squad by D'Arcy Short, but has just 18 days to prove his fitness for the first Test in Adelaide.
Cricket Australia also confirmed Pat Cummins would sit out the last ODI on Wednesday and three T20s in a bid to preserve his fitness for the Tests.
"Pat and Davie are critical to our plans for the Test Series," coach Justin Langer said.
"Davie will work through his injury rehab and in Pat's case it is important all of our players are managed well to keep them mentally and physically fit.
"The priority for both is being fully prepared for one of the biggest and most important home Test Series we have played in recent years."
While CA won't put a time frame on Warner's rehabilitation, the opener looked in immense discomfort as he left the SCG on Sunday.
— ICC (@ICC) November 29, 2020
Given his game is built around quick footwork and hard running between the wickets, any issue with his groin would be of concern to Australia.
Australia could now open with Matt Wade or shift Alex Carey to the top of the order for Wednesday's final ODI.
But the bigger issue is the Test team.
Warner injury throws up several Test questions
While Joe Burns appears likely to hold his spot ahead of the in-form Will Pucovski at the top of the order, both could open if Warner is out.
That would hand Pucovski his debut against a pink ball in Adelaide, while Burns hit just 57 runs at 11.4 to start the Sheffield Shield for Queensland.
There is however a belief from teammates he can step up into the senior opening role if Warner is unavailable.
"Joe is averaging 40 in Test cricket, so he is certainly established," Marnus Labuschagne said.
"He has four Test hundreds, he is a very good player.
"Although he hasn't scored the runs in Shield cricket he'd have liked, he got 99 against Pakistan last summer and negotiated through that new-ball period almost every time.
"He's not far away from some very big scores."
Meanwhile India can see a positive if Warner is injured, even if batsman KL Rahul’s statement has been slammed as “despicable” and “terrible sportsmanship”.
"I don't know how bad his injury is but it'd be nice if he gets injured for a long time," batsman KL Rahul quipped.
"I wouldn't wish that for any cricketer. But he's one of their main batsmen so if he's injured for a long time it'd be good for our team."
Australia desperately missed Warner at the top of the order during his ban two seasons ago when India last toured, before he hit 786 runs at 131 last summer.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.