ESPNcricinfo learned that Rohit sustained the injury in a net session just before the India squad entered Mumbai quarantine. They are currently scheduled to fly to South Africa next week.
Rohit says this is his second major injury-related tour in the past 12 months. Rohit was unable to play in the fourth and fifth Tests of India's 2020-21 tour through Australia as he sustained a hamstring injury during IPL 2020.
India's preparations will be affected by Rohit's absence. He has been the highest Test run-getter for India in 2021 and one of two batters (Rishabh Pant being second) with an average of 40 runs from more than 10 innings. Since moving to the top of the order during the home series against South Africa in 2019, Rohit has scored 1462 runs in 16 Tests at an average of 58.48, with five centuries including, most recently, a Player-of-the-Match-winning 127 in India's win at The Oval in September.
KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and Panchal are the other openers in India’s Test squad.
It is still unclear if India will give the vice-captaincy to Ajinkya Rahane or name a new deputy for Virat Kohli. The selectors are currently deliberating Rohit's availability for three ODIs following the Test series. This week, a decision is expected.
This is not Panchal's first call-up to Test squad. He was part of an extended India team that beat England in four Tests earlier this year. Panchal, who is 31 years old and leads Gujarat domestic cricket, was one of the reserve openers in that series along with AbhimanyuEaswaran.
Although Panchal is not well-known to the general public, he has been a regular for India A in the past few years. Panchal, a veteran of 100 first-class matches was most recently part of India A shadow tour to South Africa where he captained India A in two of the four-day games at Bloemfontein. In his three innings, he scored scores of 96 and 24 respectively.
Panchal's stock rose substantially after his breakout Ranji Trophy season 2016-17 where he topped run charts with 1310 runs over 17 innings at an average 87.33. He scored his first-class high, an unbeaten 314, against Punjab in that season. These runs were part of an historic run by Gujarat that saw them win their maiden Ranji Trophy title. Panchal assumed the Gujarat captaincy following Parthiv Patel's retirement in 2011.