KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, India, Sri Lanka, 2nd Test
File photo of Shikhar Dhawan and KL RahulReuters

Opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan is unlikely to play the first of the upcoming three-match Test series against South Africa, starting January 5 in Cape Town, as he has suffered an ankle injury.

Dhawan underwent an MRI scan and was limping as he entered the team hotel in Mumbai ahead of their departure to South Africa on Wednesday, December 27. He reportedly had a heavy strapping around his left ankle.

The Delhi batsman, who seemed to be the first-choice opening batsman along with Tamil Nadu's Murali Vijay, though has travelled with the team to the African nation.

"Shikhar Dhawan's ankle is being assessed. The physio is yet to give any report to the national selectors," a BCCI official told the Press Trust of India.

He added: "As of now, he is travelling with the team. However, it can't be ascertained whether he will be available for the first Test match or not."

Vijay, Rahul to open?

In the absence of Dhawan, Karnataka's KL Rahul, who hit peak form during the recently concluded T20I series against Sri Lanka, is expected to open alongside Vijay.

However, Dhawan's unavailability is a big setback for Virat Kohli's side as the left-handed opener had been in fine form in the recent past.

Since making a comeback into the side during India's tour of Sri Lanka in July, the southpaw has hit 550 runs, including two centuries, at a staggering average of 68.75.

Shikhar Dhawan, India, Sri Lanka
File photo of Shikhar DhawanReuters

Dhawan also provided variety at the top of the order as India would have wanted to go in with a right-left combination against the mighty South African bowlers, who shot out Zimbabwe in a four-day Test inside two days earlier this week.

Kohli talks about upcoming tour

Meanwhile, India captain Kohli, who addressed the pre-departure press conference on Wednesday in Mumbai, said India will be looking to "get rid of all mental pressures" and give their 100 percent effort in what is expected to be a challenging tour.

"We have got rid of all the mental pressures of touring abroad and wanting to prove to people. We are not wanting to prove anything to anyone and our duty is to go out there, give our 100 percent effort for the country and get the result that we want to," Kohli said.