Harmanpreet Kaur ruled out of 1st ODI against Australia

S Sudarshanan
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Rejuvenated Harmanpreet Kaur confident of getting back amongst runs going into T20I series

Harmanpreet Kaur © Getty Images

Harmanpreet Kaur, India’s ODI vice-captain, has been ruled out of the first ODI against Australia on Tuesday (September 21) due to a thumb injury. She sustained the injury a few days ago, said Ramesh Powar, head coach of India.

Kaur returned early from The Hundred after suffering a quad injury. She was one of the five Indians in The Hundred and played three matches for the Kate Cross-led Manchester Originals, before being sidelined.

“She was declared fit. She was selected for the tour but unfortunately some days back, she got hit on the thumb,” said Powar on Monday during a virtual press conference.

“She is not available for the first ODI. A call on her availability for the next game based on her pain management and fitness management.”

Kaur missed the warm-up clash that India played on Saturday, along with Jemimah Rodrigues, Punam Raut and Shikha Pandey. It was speculated that Pandey also was not fully fit.

But Powar said that all other players are available for selection and the team has no other injury concerns. With Kaur ruled out, Mithali Raj and the head coach will be looking at various permutations and combinations to decide on the middle order choices and the roles for them.

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“Everyone is available, except for Harman, for the first ODI. As far as Jemi is concerned, she will be and she is part of our thought process going forward. It’s about combination, we are trying to find the right composition going towards the World Cup, so Jemi might miss out, Jemi might play, so we can't say that now. It's a three-ODI series, so we'll take it one game at a time,” Powar said.

Skipper Raj batted at number three in the warm-up fixture against Australia and the 38-year-old believes her position in the batting order depends on others around her and she is willing to move up and down considering the task at hand.

“I have been very flexible with my batting order whether it’s number three or number four, but it all depends on the composition of the team,” Raj said. “If we have a good middle order, then I push myself up the order and if there’s a little bit inexperience, then I push myself down the order to number four. It all depends on the composition of the team, and now, with Harman out for the first ODI, I probably have to think about my order again.”

Uncapped Yastika Bhatia and Richa Ghosh – with the later also keeping the wickets – were in action in the warm-up game. Powar refused to read much into it and didn’t reveal the combination they are likely to go with in the first match.

“As far as Richa is concerned, all the 18 players selected are long-term investments. I can’t just talk about Richa, we are looking at everyone in long-term. We are not looking at any player for short-term,” Powar added.

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Talking about the younger players in the squad, Shafali Verma will be opening the innings with Smriti Mandhana and Powar feels, as a team, they want to give Verma a free hand and wary of burdening her with more responsibility. According to him, the 17-year-old has been working on her game awareness and mental aspects with the batting coach Shiv Sundar Das.

“As far as Shafali is concerned, the way she played in Test in England, we were happy. As a 17-year-old Mithali, we have to give her a little breathing space. We -Mithali, SS Das, and me – had conversations with her. She knows her role and what is expected out of her. We don't push a 17-year-old, who is very expressive in her batting. We don't want to curtail her game, but we give her freedom with no responsibility,” Powar said while talking about the big-hitting opener.

“SS Das plays a major role because he's here as the batting coach. He has spent a lot of time with Shafali, and he's working on her game and mental aspects also. And, she has played the Hundred, so she has got some confidence from England. It is important for us to let her express her cricket rather than controlling her.”

There has been talks about Australia wanting to attack oppositions with pace and bounce and the pitches in the series are likely to assist their bowling line-up comprising of speedsters like Darcie Brown and Stella Campbell. The later has been among the wickets in the warm-up fixture and is likely to make her debut during the series in the absence of Megan Schutt and Tayla Vlaeminck. Raj sounded confident of dealing with the hosts’ pace battery and added that they have worked hard on playing the shorter deliveries.

“I think we also gathered that input that they will be using lot many of the short-pitched deliveries. We do have two of our side-arm throwers in the team. That’s where the girls have been using lot of their time playing them, playing more of short of lengths and short-pitched stuff. A lot more cuts and pulls we have been working in our training session,” Raj concluded.

Viewers in India can catch all the matches of India’s tour of Australia live on Sony Six and Sony Six HD. The matches will also be live streamed on the Sony Liv website and app.