England will discover after a second scan on Steven Finn's thigh injury today whether he is likely to play any part in their Test tour of India.
Finn was yesterday ruled out of the second match of four, starting in Mumbai on Friday, but England remain optimistic he may yet be back in the reckoning for the third and fourth Tests in Kolkata and Nagpur.
After the tourists' nine-wicket defeat in Ahmedabad in the first Test, many experts were convinced the Middlesex fast bowler was needed to try to start the fightback.
It is therefore discouraging that, after a recurrence of the thigh strain he suffered three weeks ago, England must continue in the short term at least to get by without him.
Finn's unavailability does solve one selection problem, though. England's critics have also prescribed a return at the Wankhede Stadium for Monty Panesar as a second spinner – a scenario which might have put vice-captain Stuart Broad's place under threat in a four-man attack.
That vexed equation no longer threatens, but Finn's absence is a blow nonetheless to England's chances of overturning historical trends by recovering from 1-0 down to win or even draw in India.
England coach Andy Flower broke the news of Finn's setback. "He has unfortunately hurt his leg again, a couple of days ago, and is having another scan tomorrow," he said yesterday.
"We don't think he's got any structural damage, but it would be careless to suggest he might play the second Test."
It was hoped last week that Finn could even be fit for the first Test, until England decided it was too much of a gamble to risk both his physical readiness and that of his fellow fast bowler Broad – only just recovered from a bruised left heel.
Finn was cleared of serious injury when he first had a scan on his thigh at the start of the tour – and, should the second examination tell the same tale, England hope he can prove his fitness in a three-day match for the Performance Programme squad who are shadowing the senior side in India.
Flower is taking nothing for granted. "I've got an open mind about it. Let's see what his scan reveals.
"We hope he goes and plays that three-day game, and comes through well. If he comes through that well, he'll be available for the third and fourth Tests."
Finn's extra pace and bounce are assets which served England well in their otherwise highly unsuccessful one-day international tour here last autumn. "His last real cricket out here in India was during the one-day series about a year ago, and he bowled superbly," said Flower. "That extra pace would assist us, but that's not to be."
The coach already had problems following England's defeat at Ahmedabad's Sardar Patel Stadium, their seventh in 12 Tests since the start of a chastening year after going to the top of the world rankings in August 2011. "It's disappointing to lose, and I think we're all well aware that if you go one down in India it is a tough fightback," he said.
Panesar's return is probable, but Flower is reserving judgement until he has seen the second Test pitch. "Monty Panesar, of course, has a chance to play," he added. "We might go with two spinners, but we'll judge that when we see the conditions."
England batsman Ian Bell did not make it home in time on Monday to witness the birth of his first child, a son named Joseph William. Bell is expected to be back in India in time for the third Test.