Australian opener Travis Head sustained a hand injury during the penultimate ODI of the five-match series against South Africa in Centurion. Head was forced to retire hurt after being struck by a delivery from Proteas pace sensation Gerald Coetzee in the second innings as the five-time world champions suffered a 164-run defeat against the home side.
“At this stage, it’s a confirmed fracture, and how long that timeframe is, we’re yet to determine that, so fingers crossed clearly with the World Cup fast approaching," said Australia coach Andrew McDonald.
“I’m not a medical person, but I think it’s a little bit higher up than the actual [index] finger itself. But I don’t know the actual terminology. It’s in a joint somewhere, so I won’t go into the medical specifics. But, yeah, a confirmed fracture and to be assessed again tomorrow with another scan,” he added.
The 29-year-old Head, a crucial player at the top of the innings for Australia in one dayers, would be sorely missed if he is ruled out of the World Cup, which is scheduled to begin in India on October 5. Australia is set to commence their campaign against India at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on October 8.
Head boasts an impressive record, averaging 41.28 at a strike rate of 99.51 in 58 ODIs for Australia. His exceptional form in the previous World Test Championship (WTC) cycle prompted the team management to experiment with him at the top of the order in white-ball cricket. The move initially yielded positive results, but Australia may need to reconsider their plans following the southpaw's latest injury setback.
In the same match where Head suffered his injury, South Africa exhibited a commanding performance with both bat and ball. They amassed a colossal first-innings total of 416/5, primarily propelled by Heinrich Klaasen’s scintillating innings of 174 runs off 83 balls. Klaasen’s onslaught included 13 fours and 13 sixes, leaving Australia with a formidable target to chase.
Australia’s batting lineup struggled against South Africa’s pace duo of Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi. The Proteas' bowlers kept picking up wickets at regular intervals, with Alex Carey being the lone fighter for Australia, scoring 99 runs. Nevertheless, Australia eventually succumbed to pressure and were bowled out for 252, resulting in a comprehensive 164-run victory for South Africa.
As for the ongoing ODI series between South Africa and Australia, the contest has reached an exciting juncture. With Australia securing victories in the first two games and South Africa bouncing back with wins in the next two, the series is tied at 2-2.
The decider is scheduled to take place on Sunday, September 17, at Johannesburg’s Wanderers Stadium. Both teams will be eager to clinch the series and build momentum heading into the World Cup, adding an extra layer of anticipation to the final showdown.