Mitchell Starc, Australia’s pace spearhead, attended a training session at Pallekele Stadium ahead of the five-match One-day International series against Sri Lanka, but he is unlikely to be included in the playing XI for the opener later on Tuesday, despite the hosts’ dearth of quick bowlers.

The injured index finger of his bowling arm is still taped, and International Cricket Council (ICC) regulations “prevent him from playing the opening match,” according to a report on Tuesday.

Because of four injuries in a week, Australia’s pace bowling stock has been severely depleted on the tour. Even if Starc is fit, Australia “will not be permitted” to play one of their best 50-over bowlers, according to the report.

In the first over of the T20 series, the 32-year-old paceman suffered a deep gash in the index finger of his left bowling hand. He did not play the remaining T20Is, and while the injury may have healed enough for him to bowl with a taped finger, the sport’s global governing body regulations prohibit it.

Under ICC Laws, “protection for the hand or fingers may be worn only with the consent of the umpires”, the report said, adding that “under guidance notes for match officials issued by the International Cricket Council, umpires take a much sterner view for bowlers and tape on the fingers of the bowling hand is effectively outlawed.”

Australia had planned to play three quicks in the first ODI — Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and Test skipper Pat Cummins — to put pressure on the opposition from the start, but given the situation, they’ll have to look for an alternative to Starc.

“It is certainly (a) testing (situation),” said captain Aaron Finch, adding that Starc and Mitchell Marsh would likely to be available from the third ODI onwards.”

(Inputs from IANS)