TASMANIAN teammates Xavier Doherty and Jackson Bird face contrasting fortunes as Australian selectors look to their bowlers to save the Test series in India.
While influential judges including captain Michael Clarke and spin guru Shane Warne have hinted that Doherty's left-arm orthodox deliveries may get a run in tomorrow's second Test in Hyderabad, Bird's immediate international prospects appear half a world away.
Selectors had been hopeful that the reserve paceman would return for the remainder of the four-match series after being sent home earlier this week for scans on a back injury.
However, Australian team doctor Peter Brukner confirmed the 26-year-old would not rejoin the team in India and was due to undergo further tests yesterday.
``Initial tests performed in Melbourne have confirmed that Jackson Bird has a bone-stress injury of the low back,'' he said.
The absence of Bird - who has been in sparkling domestic form for the Tigers and took 11 wickets in two Tests in his debut series against Sri Lanka last month - leaves 50-Test veteran Mitchell Johnson as the only back-up quick in the 16-man squad.
A team spokesman said no decision had been made on a possible replacement player.
The ICC has announced Australia can rise one spot to second in the Test rankings if it can rebound from the eight-wicket loss in Chennai and win the remaining three Tests, leaving selectors pondering on how many spinners to play in Hyderabad.
Amid hints that offspinner Nathan Lyon (3-215 and 1-29) is not guaranteed a place, back-up Doherty has been praised by Clarke for his three-wicket performance in the warm-up match against India A.
The captain said he couldn't answer the question of whether the 30-year-old from George Town would play.
``I need to see conditions in Hyderabad, wait and see what the wicket is like, and then the selectors can meet and make a call on that,'' he said.
After all 20 Australian wickets in the first Test fell to slow bowlers, Warne suggested: ``If Doherty is our best option, he should play.''
Coach Mickey Arthur says ideally he'd like to have both Doherty and Lyon in the side, particularly as the same combination of left-arm spinner Monty Panesar and offspinner Graeme Swann claimed 37 wickets in England's 2-1 series win in India in December.
Arthur says England's ploy was to use Panesar early and turn to the offspinner late in the match.
Speaking to The Examiner before leaving for India a month ago, Doherty said he had learnt lots since his Test baptism of fire against England in 2010-11 when he took three wickets at 102.00.
``I know I was not where I needed to be to become a threat at that level,'' he said.