Healy ruled out of final India T20I, McGrath to captain

Australia captain Alyssa Healy has been ruled out of the fifth and final T20I against India in Mumbai on Tuesday after injuring her right calf in Saturday’s series-sealing victory at Brabourne Stadium.

Tahlia McGrath provided the update on Healy on Monday afternoon and confirmed she will lead Australia in the series finale, having stood in as captain during Australia’s fielding innings in their thrilling seven-run win two days ago, continuing her meteoric rise after being named vice- captain for the first time on this tour.

Healy, who took over as Australian leader for this tour in the absence of Meg Lanning, strained her calf while batting in the sixth over of the fourth T20I.

She limped from the ground and took no further part in the match.

The 32-year-old will undergo scans upon her return to Australia in the coming days, to determine a timeline for her return to play.

Healy has featured in 106 consecutive T20Is – a world record – and will miss an international match in the 20-over format for the first time since January 2013.

Australia’s next engagement is a home ODI and T20I series against Pakistan beginning in mid-January ahead of the T20I World Cup in South Africa in February.

Beth Mooney, who keeps wicket for the Scorchers and Western Australia, will take the gloves for Tuesday’s game having stood behind the stumps during the second innings of Saturday’s game.

Mooney brushes up on her 'keeping skills at Monday's training session // cricket.com.au
Mooney brushes up on her ‘keeping skills at Monday’s training session // cricket.com.au

It remains to be seen who will fill Healy’s role at the top of the order, with options including Grace Harris, Phoebe Litchfield, Tahlia McGrath and Ellyse Perry, who all have experience opening at WBBL level.

“We haven’t decided yet … but I think the good news is we’ve got a lot of options, whether Pheebs (Litchfield) comes in, she’s done it in the Big Bash, myself, Pez… we’ve got so many options but we’ll have to wait and see,” McGrath said to reporters in Mumbai on Monday.

Tough India tour sets us up well for World Cup: Gardner

Either way, it seems likely Litchfield will be handed her second opportunity of the series, having filled in for an ill Harris in the second T20I, where she was not required to bat.

This has been McGrath’s first international tour where she has held an official leadership role, however the 27-year-old recently captained the Adelaide Strikers to their first WBBL title and has also skippered South Australia in domestic one-day cricket.

The all-rounder will also draw on the experience of veteran and ‘unofficial vice-captain’ Ellyse Perry for Tuesday’s game.

McGrath consults Perry at the innings break of Saturday's fourth T20I // cricket.com.au
McGrath consults Perry at the innings break of Saturday’s fourth T20I // cricket.com.au

“I’m new to leadership in this team and been learning a lot on the fly and it probably worked in my favor that I didn’t have long to think about it,” McGrath said of being thrown into the deep end midway through Saturday’s game.

“I was strangely calm out there, I had a lot of support. (When Richa Ghosh was flying) I had to try and stay calm and keep the team calm.

Phoebe Litchfield is a contender to replace Healy in the XI // cricket.com.au
Phoebe Litchfield is a contender to replace Healy in the XI // cricket.com.au

“I’ve come off the back of captaining strikers for six weeks where it’s high pressure, the best players in the world are there and that’s what it felt like, I was captaining the strikers with a few extra players.”

Australia will be out to finish their India tour on a winning note on Saturday, already holding an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-game series.

The 15-strong squad will fly home first thing the next morning.

Australia’s T20I tour of India

1st T20I: Australia won by nine wickets

2nd T20I: Match tied (India won the Super Over)

3rd T20I: Australia won by 21 runs

4th T20I: Australia won by seven runs

5th T20I: December 20, Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai (Dec 21, 12.30am AEDT)

Australia squad: Alyssa Healy (c), Tahlia McGrath (vc), Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Heather Graham, Grace Harris, Alana King, Phoebe Litchfield, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Amanda- Jade Wellington

India squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Renuka Singh Thakur, Meghna Singh, Anjali Sarvani, Devika Vaidya, S Meghana, Richa Ghosh, Harleen Deol

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