Indian captain Virat Kohli’s doubtful presence in the fourth and final Test against Australia in Dharamsala could put the hosts under pressure on the eve of the series decider.
With the series levelled at 1-1, the 28-year-old said he would take to field only if he is 100 percent fit following the shoulder injury he sustained in the previous match in Ranchi.
While Kohli's scored only 46 runs in the series so far, the absence of a quality batsman like him could prove to be a game-changer unless his replacement Shreyas Iyer fires big time.
Kohli did bat at the nets on Friday but admitted that a call can only be taken by physio Patrick Farhart in the evening.
In the event of Kohli missing out, Ajinkya Rahane would lead the team.
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. His double hundred in the warm-up game against Australia could also give him confidence in case he plays the decider.
Kohli's injury has added to the spice in one of the most enticing series of the home season with the fitting finale taking place on the lap of the scenic Dhauladhar ranges.
Managing to eke out a draw from the most adverse circumstances must have given Steve Smith and his boys immense amount of self-belief that they have the requisite ability to salvage the team from any situation.
Peter Handscombe has shown that he has the technique, and more importantly, a big heart to thrive in top-flight professional sport.
But Saturday will be a different day and different occasion. The hosts know it too well that they are now not left with any option but to go for the jugular.
For that to happen, someone like a KL Rahul has to promise himself that he would convert a bright start in the series into an even brighter three-figure mark.
Cheteshwar Pujara once again needs to grind the opposition out while Murali Vijay would need to show monk-like calmness in pressure situation. Rahane, in full flow, is a delight to watch but in case Kohli is absent, he will have to be the leader in his own way.
However, the bowling department will remain a cause for concern as Ishant Sharma's lack of wickets have hurt India badly. The 'good but unlucky' bowler tag has stopped cutting ice and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, a good swing bowler and a competent lower-order batsman, could get a look-in.
For Australia, a draw would mean moral victory but a win will be huge, possibly as big as an Ashes triumph.
A team that was not rated highly upon its arrival in India, this has been as good a series for Australia. Smith's gutsy twin hundreds, Nathan Lyon's lion-hearted spin bowling, Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscombe's coming of age batting have been the highlights so far.
At Dharamsala, Jackson Bird could make the cut in place of Steve O'Keefe, who was ineffective during the 77 overs that he bowled in the third Test in Ranchi.
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 Cummins.
Follow the The Quint for live updates of the final Test at 9.00 am on 25 March.