Australia captain Pat Cummins has pulled out of the third Test against India.
The 29-year-old had flown home after the second Test to spend time with his seriously ill mother.
Former captain Steve Smith will temporarily replace Cummins as skipper, with Australia scrambling to save face following two heavy losses in a nightmare start to the tour.
The loss will deprive Australia of their leading pace bowler and is the latest blow to a side depleted by injuries. Cummins is currently ranked in third place on the International Cricket Council’s Test bowling rankings.
“I have decided against returning to India at this time. I feel I am best being here with my family,” Cummins said in a statement. “I appreciate the overwhelming support I have received from Cricket Australia and my teammates. Thanks for your understanding.”
Cummins returned to Australia earlier this week citing a “serious family illness”, but was initially expected to return to India in time for the third Test.
India hold an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-match series after Australia lost the second Test by six wickets.
Spin bowler Ravindra Jadeja tore through Australia’s batting with figures of 7-42, as the visitors were bowled out for a dismal 113 in their second innings and lost by six wickets.
After the loss, Cummins said he was “disappointed” with his side’s shot choice and failure to adapt to the spin-friendly conditions.
“Everyone controls their own game, some balls just have your name,” he said. “But I think there will be a review. Shot choice, did we go about it the right way?”
Australia repeatedly employed cross-bat sweep shots on a turning Delhi wicket and paid the price as they tumbled to 113 all out in their second innings after resuming on the third day at 61-1.
The capitulation was criticised by former captains Allan Border and Michael Clarke, who denounced the batting collapse as “panicky”.
Six of the 10 Australian batsmen fell after attempting sweep shots off the bowling of Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin.
“It was a panicky, frenetic sort of batting,” said Border.
Talismanic opening batsman David Warner was earlier this week ruled out of the third Test after suffering a concussion and an elbow fracture.
The out-of-form Warner, who scored just 26 runs across the opening two matches, will miss the remaining Tests but it is hoped he can return for the subsequent ODI series.
Veteran fast bowler Josh Hazlewood has also been scratched after failing to recover from an Achilles tendon injury.
In a much-needed boost for the injury-plagued side, head coach Andrew McDonald has confirmed that all-rounder Cameron Green and pace bowler Mitchell Starc are expected to return to the squad.
Both have been recovering from serious finger injuries.
The third Test in Indore starts on 1 March.
© Agence France-Presse