With England already four down in their second innings of the third Test against India in Mohali, the big question going into the fourth day is if Haseeb Hameed will even bat. Hameed did not open the innings owing to a finger injury.
Hameed would have been eligible to open the innings for England along with Alastair Cook, despite sitting out the entire India innings, since the injury that he suffered is considered to be an external one.
The Lancashire opener, who already had a bandaged hand as he came in to open in the first innings, was hit on in the same area by a rising delivery from Umesh Yadav, which also led to his dismissal. Since then, Hameed has not been in the field, although he has been constantly testing out the finger injury in the nets, just to see if he can bat.
It is believed Hameed might have broken his little finger, but X-rays regarding the injury will only be taken after the third Test match concludes.
England are still hopeful that Hameed can bat in the second innings, and they will also pray that he bats well. England are in deep trouble at 78/4 in the second innings, still trailing India by 56 runs, and they need Joe Root, Hameed and the remaining batsmen to somehow dig their team out of the massive hole they find themselves in.
Hameed has shown great character, technique and patience in the matches he has played so far, so if he is ruled out of the rest of the series – there are two more matches to play, in Mumbai and Chennai – it will be a big blow to England.
Considering the problems that Ben Duckett and Gary Ballance have endured, the England selectors might bring in a replacement if Hameed is indeed ruled out.
Who that replacement will be, remains to be seen. Nick Gubbins, Keaton Jennings and Daniel Bell-Drummond are thought to be the candidates, although there is a chance of Sam Billings being called up as well, purely because of the latter's ability to play spin, even if that would keep that opening slot a problem position.