Injury rules out Harmanpreet Kaur; Smriti Mandhana in line to make captaincy debut

Harmanpreet's heroics kick-starts India's World T20 campaign in a grand way

Harmanpreet Kaur in action for India. ©ICC

In a big setback for the Indian team ahead of their One-Day International series against England, Harmanpreet Kaur, the vice-captain, has been ruled out of action because of an ankle injury which she sustained after returning from the tour of New Zealand as per a tweet from BCCI's official handle.

Harleen Deol, who plays for Himachal Pradesh in the domestic circuit, is set to replace her. Smriti Mandhana is likely to be named as the captain for the three Twenty20 Internationals.

Kaur has been injury-prone over the years, but this is the first time in recent memory that she will be missing an entire international assignment because of not being fit. She had skipped the 2017 Kia Super League in England because of an injury sustained a few weeks prior at the World Cup where India finished runners-up. She practiced with the team to prove her fitness, but could not clear the necessary markers.

Kaur is expected to travel to the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore for consultation before deciding the future course of action.

Deol, an opening batter who also plays in the middle-order, was crucial to Himachal Pradesh’s journey to the semifinals of the inter-state 50-over competition in December last year. She impressed in the Challenger Trophy also earlier this year and represented Board President’s XI in the warm-up game against England on February 18.

Kaur’s absence opens up the door for Mandhana to show her captaincy skills at the highest level. Mandhana made a strong impression as skipper of BP XI. She captains Maharashtra in the domestic circuit, and has also led India Red to title in the 50-over Challenger Trophy title in January 2018.

The three ODIs will be played in Mumbai on February 22, 25 and 28. These are a part of the ICC Women’s Championship. India are currently third on the table with 12 points from as many games. With India unlikely to play against Pakistan because of political issues, these games are important to win to avoid qualifiers ahead of the 2021 World Cup in New Zealand. England are currently seventh on the table with ten points from nine games.

The three T20Is will be played in Guwahati on March 4, 7 and 9.