VIRAT Kohli's tumultuous series appears almost certain to end with him missing the deciding fourth Test in Dharamsala.
In what shapes as a catastrophic blow to his team, Kohli has all but ruled himself out of the biggest match of his captaincy career after admitting he's not fit enough to meet his own criteria for playing.
Kohli will face an 11th-hour fitness test on his injured right shoulder in a last-gasp bid to play, but the skipper's dejected face at Friday's dramatic press conference suggested he is all but consigned to the fact India will lose their inspirational leader.
The captain has enforced a policy in the Indian team that no one plays if they're not 100 per cent fit, and after declaring that no exceptions would be made for his own position, Kohli went on to say he's not right.
After his press conference, Kohli went back to the nets but lasted just nine balls before he walked out shaking his head.
Shreyas Iyer is set to play in Kohli's place and Ajinkya Rahane to captain and they're enormous shoes to fill.
In Ranchi when he was forced off after damaging his shoulder in the field, India appeared completely rudderless and devoid of any enthusiasm and aggression.
Kohli has averaged a dismal nine this series with the bat, but that's not the point.
India needs his aggressive captaincy and infectious desire if they're to topple an Australian side already adamant they hold the upper hand.
"Sometimes you have to respect the fact that these things are a part of your career and these things are bound to happen," said Kohli.
"You might be very, very fit but an impact injury is an impact injury. I have to accept that fact and try and get 100 per cent fit for the game, If not I'm sure guys will take it as an opportunity to still take the team ahead.
"Me playing or not playing shouldn't make so much of a difference to the other 10 guys because they have a responsibility to fulfil as well. I've not doing anything special in the series so far but still the guys have fought it out and that shows why we are the No. 1 team in the world.
"If (I'm ruled out) I'm sure those guys are looking at it as a game-changing moment in their lives.
"I wouldn't say it's the normal feeling. It's obviously different from how you play at 100 per cent fitness. Those are things you need to address when you're going through tests.
"I've taken medication after the last game so I'm just hoping it takes a bit more time for me to get back to the normal movements I have. I have to give it a few more hours and make that call."
Steve Smith admits it will be a more mellow Indian outfit without the man who he has butted heads with ever since Kohli insinuated he and his team were systematic cheats.
"He was probably a bit more chilled out, out on the field. Probably not quite as emotional," said Smith, who is yet to name an XI, but indicated Australia will remain unchanged with a dry wicket beneath some surface grass.
"I think (Rahane) understands the game really well.
"If Virat was to miss this Test match then I'm sure the Indian side will still be in very good hands."
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