Star all-rounder Hardik Pandya is likely to miss India’s next two World Cup matches as he is yet to recover from his ankle injury that left him unavailable last week. India play against defending champions England on October 29 in Lucknow and take on Sri Lanka in Mumbai on November 2, and Pandya is almost sure to miss both the games. He could also miss a potential third match against South Africa in Kolkata on November 5. (World Cup 2023 points table)
It is suspected to be an ankle sprain or a ligament injury but there has been no confirmation on the extent of the damage.
Going by those privy to the developments, it is likely a Grade 1 sprain which entails to “slight stretching and some damage to fibers (fibrils) of the ligament.” Pandya had slipped in his follow-through while bowling against Bangladesh in Pune on October 19 and missed the clash against New Zealand in Dharamsala on October 22 due to the injury.
The Bardoa player had reported to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) on Monday in Bengaluru for his injury management.
“Hardik is still under medication. While the swelling on his left ankle has subsided considerably, he will start bowling only towards the weekend. Right now, the important thing is to give him time to recover,” an NCA source told PTI.
Since India are set to make the semifinals having won all five matches so far, Pandya could easily be rested for the next two games, which will allow him to recover fully before the knockouts.
“Pandya has suffered a bad sprain, but fortunately, not a fracture. The BCCI medical team wants to take maximum precaution. He is likely to miss next two to three matches. The team wants him fully fit for the knock-out stage,” added a BCCI source.
Pandya is likely to undergo a fitness test on Thursday and the BCCI’s medical team will ascertain his comeback date depending on how smoothly he is able to bowl full tilt without any apparent discomfort or pressure on his left ankle.
Normally a Grade 1 sprain requires three weeks of rest from the time of injury. Pandya sustained the injury on October 19, and in all likelihood, his comeback match could well be India’s last league game before the semi-finals — against the Netherlands in Bengaluru on November 12, which is exactly three weeks from the date of injury.
Pandya’s absence had created space for Suryakumar Yadav and Mohammed Shami in the playing XI against New Zealand.
While Shami was brilliant in his first game of the tournament, the Lucknow surface is expected to aid the slow bowlers, and there is a possibility of having Ravichandran Ashwin in the playing XI for the upcoming match.
In that case, the batting will also be bolstered with Ashwin coming in at No. 8. At least 12 points will be good enough for a knockout berth and 14 points (7 wins) could well be a clincher.
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