India women’s opener Smriti Mandhana has been ruled out of the ODI series against South Africa women after fracturing her right toe. A BCCI spokesperson confirmed that she had picked up the injury after being struck by a ball while batting in the nets. Pooja Vastrakar, the 20-year-old seam-bowling allrounder, has been added to the team as replacement.
Mandhana is now under observation by the BCCI’s medical team and it is unclear if she will be fit in time to play India’s next series. The team is tentatively set to depart for a tour of the Caribbean on October 23.
“It’s a mild fracture,” coach WV Raman told reporters on Tuesday. “The call [on Mandhana’s return] will be taken based on the assessment of the physios at the NCA. 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.”
Mithali Raj, the ODI captain, chose to look at the positive side, saying the opener’s absence will create opportunities for other players. “She [Mandhana] is an experienced player,” Raj said. “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.”
Mandhana had failed to get going in the T20I series against South Africa that preceded the ODIs, with scores of 21, 13, 7 and 5 in the four completed games. However, she was in red-hot form in ODIs last season, with six scores over fifty including a hundred, in nine matches against Sri Lanka (away), New Zealand (away) and England (home). Overall, in 50 ODIs, she has 1951 runs at 42.41, with four tons and 16 half-centuries.
India won the rain-hit T20Is – two games were abandoned without a ball bowled – against South Africa 3-1. They will square off again for three ODIs in Vadodara between October 9 and 14.
India squad: Mithali Raj (capt), Harmanpreet Kaur (vice-capt), 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