Smriti Mandhana will miss the 3-match ODI series against South Africa scheduled to begin from October 9. Following a toe injury, she has been ruled out of the series and Pooja Vastrakar has been added to the team as Mandhana’s replacement.
A BCCI spokesperson revealed to ESPNcricinfo that the star opener of Indian women’s cricket team picked up the injury during the practice session. She was struck by a ball while batting in the nets. Mandhana is being monitored by the BCCI’s medical team. Her availability for India’s next series will be decided based on the injury assessment. The team is tentatively set to depart for a tour of the Caribbean on October 23.
Mandhana has been replaced by the 20-year-old seam bowling all-rounder Pooja Vastrakar. ICC shared the information on the official Twitter handles saying, “Smriti Mandhana, the No.1 batter in the @MRFWorldwide Women’s ODI Rankings, has been ruled out of India’s ODI series against South Africa with a fractured toe. Seam-bowling all-rounder Pooja Vastrakar has been called up as her replacement.’
The coach, WV Raman called it a mild fracture in a press conference on Tuesday and said a timeline could not be fixed about Mandhana’s injury assessment.”The call [on Mandhana’s return] will be taken based on the assessment of the physios at the NCA [National Cricket Academy, Bengaluru]. It’s difficult to fix the timeline either way because she still needs to get an MRI done because there is some swelling and it has to die down for the MRI to be taken. Once that’s done, only then the assessment can be made.”
On the other hand, for the skipper, Mithali Raj believes that Mandhana’s absence could give opportunities to a number of young upcoming players. “She [Mandhana] is an experienced player. But other players, like Priya Punia, have scored a lot of runs in the domestic games. This series is not part of the ICC Women’s Championship. So that way it’s a chance for us to try out new players. And I am positive that whoever gets a chance will utilise it fully.”
Mithali Raj (C), Harmanpreet Kaur (VC), Taniya Bhatia (wk), Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami, Dayalan Hemalatha, Mansi Joshi, Pooja Vastrakar, Shikha Pandey, Poonam Yadav, Priya Punia, Punam Raut, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma