While South Africa continue to fret over the availability of Dale Steyn, the visitors received another huge blow as Vernon Philander was ruled out of the rest of the series with an ankle injury. India lost their best bowler in the first match of the ODI series, and it looks like the tables have now turned, with Steyn struggling to recover in time from the groin strain picked up in the first Test, while Philander is on his way back home.
Kyle Abbott – not a bad replacement is he – is the man who will take Philander's place in the squad, and if the fast bowler will play the second Test match in Bengaluru, starting Saturday, or not will depend on Steyn's availability.
AB De Villiers said the fast bowler, who sat out the second bowling innings in the first Test owing to the injury, underwent a test on Thursday, and his availability will be known only on late Friday.
"He's having a fitness test," De Villiers, who will play his 100th Test match, said on Thursday. "So I'm not 100% sure. We are hoping for his return but we'll see how he goes today and tomorrow."
If Steyn does not make it in time, Abbott will definitely come in. The right-arm fast bowler has a chance to feature even if Steyn is in the lineup, if South Africa decide to go with three pace bowlers.
While Philander and Steyn is worrying news at the moment for South Africa, they do have some encouraging news as well, as JP Duminy and Morne Morkel, two players who missed the first Test match, have been passed fit.
Morkel is a big weapon to have for South Africa, if they want to push the hostile-fast-bowling button, while Duminy lends so much more balance to the team, that his place in the XI is invaluable, even in Test match cricket. Duminy's off-spinners means, South Africa can go with three pace bowlers, and one specialist spinner.
India do not have too many injury worries going into this match, with Ishant Sharma set for a return to the playing XI, after sitting out the first Test through suspension. Going by the bowling performance in the first Test match alone, it looks like Varun Aaron will get the nod ahead of Umesh Yadav, with that feeling only strengthening when the former did the bulk of the bowling in the nets on Thursday.
However, India also have the option of adding another batsman/all-rounder to their ranks and just going with one fast bowler and three spinners or two fast bowlers and two spinners – Gurkeerat Singh Mann's inclusion in the squad might be a pointer to India playing with an all-rounder instead of an extra spin bowler.
If there is a tinge of green on the pitch at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium – possible considering the amount of rain in Bengaluru over the last week or so – it will be a no-brainer for Kohli considering the seam department, and Ishant will play along with one of Aaron and Umesh, at the very least.
Considering the three-spin attack worked so well in the first Test, Virat Kohli is likely to stick to that plan, even if the wicket shows signs of aiding fast bowling in the first couple of days. The pitch is set to take turn as the Test match wears on, and India's best plan is to stick to their strengths – spin bowling, be that by adding all-rounder Gurkeerat or keeping Amit Mishra alongside R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
Another decision for Kohli and Ravi Shastri to make is if Shikhar Dhawan still warrants a place in the team. The left-hander had a woeful first Test match, which would not have been that big a cause for worry had he not come off a poor limited-overs leg against South Africa.
India have the option of replacing Dhawan with KL Rahul at the top, or bringing back Rohit Sharma, with Cheteshwar Pujara going up to open. As it stands, though, Dhawan looks likely to keep his place, at least for this Test match.
Expected lineups: India: Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron.
South Africa: Stiaan Van Zyl, Dean Elgar, Faf Du Plessis, Hashim Amla (C), AB De Villiers, JP Duminy, Dane Vilas, Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada, Kyle Abbott, Imran Tahir.