Ishant Sharma is in danger of being ruled out of the forthcoming two-Test series against New Zealand after contracting an ankle tear during a Ranji Trophy fixture in Delhi.
The right-arm quick twisted his ankle while appealing for an lbw decision against Vidarbha captain Faiz Fazal following which he limped off the field.
An MRI scan later confirmed a Grade 3 tear on his right ankle requiring rest for at least six weeks.
"He has been advised complete rest for six weeks, so there are little chances of him playing the Test series against New Zealand next month," DDCA director Sanjay Bhardwaj told IANS [Indo-Asian News Service].
"When he goes to the National Cricket Academy will depend on his getting into a position where he can walk properly," he added.
Ishant was in the process of completing just his third over with the new ball in Vidarbha's second innings when he landed his foot awkwardly in his follow-through.
He soon fell to the floor writhing in pain necessitating medical attention on the field.
His bowling services were dearly missed by Delhi in the remainder of Vidarbha's innings as the visitors expanded their lead to 346 for the loss of just three wickets before announcing the declaration.
The 96-Test veteran will now undergo rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy where Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shikhar Dhawan are also recovering from their respective injuries.
India's Test series, part of the World Test Championship, will begin on February 21 after the conclusion of the white-ball leg of the tour.
The second match will kick off on February 29 in Christchurch.
Ishant, who is the most experienced member of India's Test unit, enjoyed a successful home season in 2019 managing to pick up 14 scalps at an impressive average of 18.14 across four games.
The 31-year-old lanky bowler's absence might pave the way for a maiden call-up for Navdeep Saini to India's Test squad.
The onus thus lies on the duo of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami to step up and put in strong performances with Ishant all but rendered unavailable for the tour.
India will additionally have the services of speedster Umesh Yadav, who has lately been spending time on the fringes of the national side.