Fit-again Smriti Mandhana to join India squad in the West Indies

Smriti, who fractured her right toe during the home series against South Africa, underwent a rehab session at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.

Smriti Mandhana had suffered a toe injury during practice session.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

India's women's team is set to be bolstered by the presence of its batting mainstay, Smriti Mandhana, ahead of the second ODI against the West Indies in Antigua on Sunday.

Smriti, who fractured her toe during the side’s home series, against South Africa a few weeks ago and underwent a rehab session at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, missed the first ODI. Mandhana only boarded the flight to the Caribbeans on Saturday, along with her T20I team-mates -- Harleen Deol, Radha Yadav and Arundhati Reddy.

With the side suffering a narrow one-run defeat in the first ODI on Friday, Smriti’s presence could be a big boost, but it needs to be seen whether the team management straightaway drafts her into the playing eleven for Sunday’s fixture.

This hasn’t been quite a memorable season for the batswoman from Sangli. In the T20I series against South Africa in Surat, Smriti had a below-par performance, where she scored only 46 runs in four innings, raising serious concerns about her form. Before that, she was below her best in the Women’s Cricket Super League in England, too. Featuring for the Western Storm, she scored 268 runs in 11 innings and often struggled to get going.

With the World T20 lined up in February, the West Indies tour will be an opportunity for the batting ace to regain the momentum, leading up to the ICC showpiece event, to be held in Australia.

Ahead of the series, coach WV Raman had made it clear that now, the top players of the team bat without ‘inhibitions of getting out’. And that’s something the coach would perhaps be advising Smriti too -- stay there, look for runs.

Back into action after nearly three weeks, a fit Smriti has plenty to play for!

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