Mitchell Starc is aiming to be fit for the second Test against India in Delhi after confirming he expects to miss the series opener with a finger injury.
Starc’s middle finger of his left hand remains in a brace after he detached the tendon from the bone in the Boxing Day Test, leaving him unable to bowl.
The left-armer has been the second quick alongside Pat Cummins on Australia’s most recent Test tours in Asia, where he averages less than 30 with his reverse swing.
Starc also plays a crucial secondary role in Australia’s attack, creating footmarks for Nathan Lyon to spin the ball out of as he comes around the wicket.
The 32-year-old was considered a 50-50 chance of playing the first Test in Nagpur on February 9, but concedes that is unlikely ahead of the four-match series.
“That’s probably likely (I will miss the first Test),” Starc told AAP at the launch of Amazon Prime’s The Test documentary.
“We’ll see how we’re placed at the end of the month.
“Hopefully I am there for the second Test if they want to play me. Maybe I can make some footmarks for Gazza (Lyon) or something. We’ll see how the finger is.”
Allrounder Cameron Green is also expected to join Starc on the sideline for the first Test, leaving Australia short of pace bowling back-up.
Nagpur has traditionally been regarded as a big-turning wicket, with Jason Krezja taking 12 wickets there on debut in 2008.
Green and Starc’s absence means Josh Hazlewood is almost certain to play his second Test in Asia since 2017, after he was overlooked for four of five matches in Sri Lanka and Pakistan last year.
Hazlewood impressed on his return from a side strain in Sydney last week, with his reverse-swing a feature in both innings.
“No qualms picking (Hazlewood), you know what you’re going to get and it is quality,” captain Cummins said.
“Getting four or five wickets on that wicket. Every time he bowled he looked threatening.”
Scott Boland could also come into contention as a third quick with Green out, given Travis Head and others can act as spinners but there are no part-time pace options.
But Cummins said he would have no workload concerns on going into Tests with two sole seamers in India.
“Over there, you pick two spinners. You think it is going to be quite a spinning wicket,” Cummins said.
“Travis Head, Marnus (Labuschagne), Smudge (Steve Smith). They all come into it a bit more.
“Generally if you’re picking two spinners you’re not expecting it to be a long game.”