Australia captain Steve Smith has been ruled out of the upcoming three-match T20I series, starting Saturday, October 7 against India in Ranchi due to shoulder injury. The 28-year-old had an MRI scan on his right shoulder after missing training session on Friday, October 6.
Smith landed awkwardly on his shoulder during the fifth of the recently-concluded five-match ODI series agaisnt India. The MRI scans though revealed the right-hander has not suffered a serious injury, but Austrlia do not want to take any risk with their key man ahead of the Ashes, starting November 23.
"He [Smith] has had an MRI scan which has excluded serious injury, but we believe the best course of action is for him to not continue to aggravate his shoulder and allow it to recover," Australia team doctor Richard Saw told cricket.com.au on Saturday.
Smith took part in the team's training session on Thursday, after which he also took some throwdowns from batting coach Graeme Hick at the JSCA International Stadium on Friday. However, the skipper, unable to continue with the training session, went off the ground after being disappointed with himself, according to cricket.com.au.
Opening batsman David Warner will now lead Australia againt Virat Kohli's men in the T20I series.
Smith's absence will be a big blow to the visiting Australian team, who are looking for a turnaround after being crushed in the recently-concluded ODI series 4-1. Despite not being in the best of forms with the bat, the New South Wales star's presence has always been a major boost to the visitors.
Glenn Maxwell, who failed to impress in the ODI series, is likely get an opportunity to bat higher-up the order.
While speculations were rife that the right-hander might even partner Warner at the top of the order, wicketkeeper-batsman Tim Paine maintained that the Aaron Finch-Warner combination is likely to remain untouched.
"Finchy and Davey Warner are probably two of the better T20 opening batsman in the world so I'd expect they would probably open. But I'm really not sure," Paine said, as quoted by cricket.com.au.
He added: "It's great that we've got the flexibility and there's a number of guys who could do it."
The onus will be experienced campaigners Finch and Warner to deliver if Smith is out of action in Ranchi. The duo stitched a couple of solid partnerships in the ODIs and their contribution at the top will be key to Australia's chances, given their inconsistent middle order.