Australia's eventful tour of India - on and off the field - took another turn for the worse with the news that fast bowler Mitchell Starc is to return home to undergo ankle surgery.
Starc hit a career-best 99 and took two wickets in the third Test in Mohali before Australia succumbed to a six-wicket defeat late on the final day.
However, he is now set to leave the tour - as Shane Watson arrives after his wife gave birth to their first child last week - for an operation to remove bone spurs on his right ankle.
With the series already lost in India, the operation should return Starc to full fitness ahead of the Ashes and possibly even the Champions Trophy later this year.
"Mitch has been experiencing ankle pain related to bone spurs during the India Test series and whilst manageable, this represents an appropriate time for Mitch to have the surgery with a view to having him fully fit for the Ashes in late June," team doctor Peter Brukner said.
"Mitch will have surgery later this week and we’ll assess his recovery as he returns to bowling."
Head coach Mickey Arthur added: "We were aware that Mitch would need surgery at some point in the future to have the spurs removed. He could have continued playing but we want to take a proactive approach in managing Mitch to have him fit for the Ashes Series in England.
"Our medical team will monitor his progress closely on whether he is available for selection for the ICC Champions Trophy."
Australia now trail the series 3-0 after they were also defeated in Chennai and Hyderabad. Captain Michael Clarke is also an injury doubt for the final Test in Delhi, which begins on Friday (22nd March) following a recurrence of his back injury.
Australia will, however, have Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja, James Pattinson and Watson available for selection after the four were suspended for the Mohali Test for failing to complete a team assignment.
© Cricket World 2013
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