Defending champions Karnataka has received a body-blow to their chances of retaining their Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 [SMAT] title after skipper Manish Pandey was ruled out of the upcoming edition of the domestic T2o tournament due to a tennis elbow injury.
The 31-year-old middle-order batsman was diagnosed with tennis elbow on his left arm during the recent limited-overs series against Australia where he featured in just one T20I.
Pandey is expected to be out of action for a period of six weeks and the same has been communicated by the National Cricket Academy [NCA] to the Karnataka State Association.
Manish Pandey was the leading run-scorer for Karnataka in their 2019 title-winning campaign, scoring 314 runs which also included an unbeaten 129 and two half-centuries.
Pandey’s injury comes as a huge jolt for Karnataka, who are already grappling with the absence of the opening duo of KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, both of whom will be unavailable for the better part of the competition since they are currently on national duty in Australia.
In the trio’s absence, the onus of leading Karnataka’s batting will lie on Devdutt Padikkal and Karun Nair. Meanwhile, Karnataka’s bowling reserves received a huge fillip after pacer Prasidh Krishna was cleared to take part in the competition by the NCA. The pacer, who featured for Kolkata Knight Riders in the 2020 IPL, suffered an elbow injury during the season.
The 20-men squad for the upcoming Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, which will take place between January 10-31, will be announced when the Fazal Khaleel-led selection committee meets on Sunday. Karnataka have been placed in Group A and they will begin their campaign against Jammu and Kashmir on January 10 on home soil.