In a setback for the Indian cricket team, Suryakumar Yadav is set to miss the upcoming three-match T20I series against Afghanistan, commencing on January 11, due to an ankle injury sustained during the recent series against South Africa. The 31-year-old cricketer twisted his ankle while fielding in Johannesburg, with a suspected tear that may require up to six weeks to heal.

“Surya has reported to the NCA for rehab work, and the Medical Science team has confirmed his injury. He won’t be able to play against Afghanistan, which starts in three weeks. Since he is unlikely to be selected for Tests, he will possibly play for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy in February to assess his fitness before participating in the IPL,” revealed an anonymous BCCI source.

Adding to the team’s woes, the chances of Hardik Pandya recovering from his ankle injury seem slim at the moment. The source stated, “There is no update on Hardik’s fitness status, and one can say there remains a big question mark over him being available before the end of the IPL.”

With both Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya unavailable, the selectors may need to consider Rohit Sharma to lead the side unless they opt for Ravindra Jadeja as the stop-gap leader for the series. However, Jadeja’s commitment to playing all five Tests against England raises concerns about workload management.

Asian Games skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad has also suffered an injury, breaking his finger and ruling him out of the series. As a result, Jitesh Sharma is expected to take over wicket-keeping duties against Afghanistan.

In another development, Ishan Kishan, who recently withdrew from the South Africa Tests for “personal reasons,” is speculated to prioritize mental health after a year of constant travel. Reports suggest that he may not be available for the Afghanistan series, with Jitesh Sharma likely to don the wicketkeeping gloves.

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“The BCCI respects a player’s privacy, and no one will ask Kishan the reason why he decided to skip the Tests. Maybe once Rahul was announced as a keeper in Tests, he didn’t want to hang around. It does take a toll if you are not picked consistently,” the source concluded.