Though optional, the South Africa training session at Eden Gardens on Friday was intense. After warming up, players took turns at nets and catch practice. Having batted for a while, Graeme Smith hurt the left little finger trying to pouch one.
The South Africa captain looked in pain and immediately went for a walk around the ground.
Though X-rays revealed no crack, an MRI scan confirmed ligament damage.
The extent of it was not known and a decision on whether Smith will take part in the second Test is expected on Saturday.
“An MRI scan has confirmed that captain Graeme Smith has suffered ligament damage to the little finger of the left hand. There is considerable swelling around the injury. The medical team is confident that the swelling will subside in the next 24 hours and Smith will put his finger to the test at Saturday’s practice after which, a decision will be taken on his fitness to play in the second Test,” said a media release from the visiting team.
It’s not clear who will lead the side if Smith doesn’t recover.
“There is no appointed vice-captain and the team management will take a call on who will be the captain if Smith isn’t ruled fit,” said Michael Owen-Smith, the South African team’s media officer. Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis are the other senior players in the side.
Alviro Petersen is the only specialist batsman among the reserves.
The 29-year-old right-hander has played 10 ODIs but is yet to make his Test debut. He made 342 runs in the eight ODI innings, at 48.85, with four half-centuries. He opened in just one of those innings, against Zimbabwe, in September 2006. But he does open for Northerns in South African domestic cricket.
A.B. de Villiers said it would be a “big blow” if Smith is not ruled fit. “Smith is a very strong leader and takes a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. He’s irreplaceable,” said the middle-order batsman during an interaction with the media.