Fractured toe rules Smriti Mandhana out of South Africa ODIs
India will be out without Smriti Mandhana. (IANS Image)

India women’s cricket team was dealt a critical blow, with opener Smriti Mandhana ruled out of the three-match ODI series against South Africa women starting Wednesday in Vadodara. Mandhana picked up a fracture in her right toe while practicing Sunday and was declared unfit to take part in the series. Allrounder Pooja Vastrakar has been named her replacement.

Mandhana, vice-captain of the women’s team, has been in prolific ODI form since the beginning of last year, scoring 1018 runs in 18 matches at a stunning average of 67.86, strike-rate of 90.97 while scoring two centuries and 10 half-centuries.

After a decent season in the KIA Super League, tallying 268 runs in 11 innings for Western Storm, Mandhana underwent a rare and uncharacteristic slump in form in the ODIs against South Africa women. In four matches, the opener managed only 46 runs even though India women secured the series 3-1.

Shortly after being named ODI Player of the Year in the ICC awards in 2018, in January this year, Mandhana climbed to the top of the ODI rankings. She struck her fourth ODI century in Napier before scoring an unbeaten 90 in Mount Maunganui when India won the ODI series 2-1 as part of the ICC Women’s Championship.

Between January 2018 and February 2019, Mandhana emerged as the highest-run scorer with 865 runs from 15 innings at an average of 72.08 and strike rate of 93.11. Of these, an impressive 57 percent of runs were scored in boundaries with 102 fours and 14 sixes.

Vastrakar, 20, has featured in six ODIs and 14 T20Is for India scoring 113 runs and picking up 12 wickets.