Australian captain Steve Smith doubtful for first T20I at Ranchi
What's the story?
Australian captain Steve Smith is a doubt for the first T20I between India and Australia in Ranchi after suffering a shoulder problem ahead of the game. The skipper had an MRI scan on his sore right shoulder on Thursday after training and missed the majority of the practice session on Friday.
While there is no risk of any long-term injury ahead of the Ashes that begins next month, the results of the scan are still being examined by the medical team. A Cricket Australia spokesperson confirmed that he is in doubt for the T20I series opener, which is set to take place on Saturday.
The final decision surrounding Smith's availability for the first T20I will be made before the toss, with David Warner stepping in as skipper if he is ruled out with an injury.
The heart of the matter
Following the scan on Thursday, the 28-year-old missed the majority of the practice session on Friday, first watching fielding drills from the sidelines and then a brief throw down with batting coach Graeme Hick.
Follow the batting practice, that barely lasted a half hour, he headed back to the dressing room before having a long chat with coach David Saker, selector Mark Waugh, head of high-performance Pat Howard, team doctor Richard Saw and physio Alex Kountouris.
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Australia lost the ODI series against India 4-1 and will be looking to use the three-match T20I series as a springboard to gain some momentum going into the Ashes. They are currently ranked No.7 in the T20I rankings and can climb up to No.3 if they manage to whitewash India.
With the Ashes set to begin next month, Australia will be taking no chances with the fitness of their captain and any slight possibility of risk might just rule him out of the first T20I. Although there are no long-term issues, in the absence of Smith, Warner will take over as captain and will see Glenn Maxwell earn a promotion as well.
With the Ashes just around the corner, Australia will be in no mood to take any risks in the T20I series against India. While they have already lost the ODI series 4-1, their No.7 ranking suggests that they aren't ones who take the T20I format too seriously. With that being the case, any potential risk of long-term damage might just result in the Australian skipper being rested for at least the first T20I in Ranchi as a precautionary measure.
Having strengthened the side, which has a fresh new-look for the T20Is, Australia will be looking to make a bright start, with or without their influential skipper.