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Navdeep Saini suffers split webbing in bowling hand

RCB physio Evan Speehcly hopeful of getting him ready "soon"

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
Navdeep Saini fields off his own bowling  •  BCCI

Navdeep Saini fields off his own bowling  •  BCCI

Navdeep Saini, the Royal Challengers Bangalore fast bowler, has suffered a split webbing in his right hand while bowling in the match against the Chennai Super Kings on Sunday. He got hit on the right thumb while fielding off his own bowling, forcing him to immediately leave the field after the 18th over of the Super Kings' chase in Dubai.
A plastic surgeon was instantly called to stitch his right webbing. This puts him in considerable doubt for the Royal Challengers' next game against the Mumbai Indians on October 28, even though Evan Speechly, the team physio, says he'd be working overtime to get him ready.
"Saini has split his webbing in the last ball there," Speechly told RCB TV after the match. "He obviously got hit on the right thumb. Fortunately, we had a good hand surgeon who stitched up nicely. We will monitor overnight and check whether he can ready for next match. I cannot be sure when he is good to go but hoping he will play next match."
The injury is similar to what Virat Kohli suffered in the 2016 season. At the time, Kohli had nine stiches on his right hand but continued to play. He finished that season with 973 runs, the most by a batsman in a single edition.
"Virat four-five years ago had it in Kolkata. We managed to stop the bleeding and he smashed a 100 [113, against the Kings XI Punjab] after we got a plastic surgeon who had stitched it. Unfortunately, you cannot compare the two injuries," Speechly explained. "Some people manage it and some can't.
"It's also because Saini's injury is on his bowling hand, so it puts a lot of pressure on him. I cannot be sure when he will be good to go. I am hoping that he will be good to play in the next game and the rest of the tournament."
Saini has been key to the Royal Challengers' turnaround this season. He has so far played in all 11 games, and while he has only picked up five wickets, he has been among the most economical pacers in the team, conceding just 7.95 runs an over.
If Saini isn't fit enough to take the field, the Royal Challengers' have Umesh Yadav as a like-for-like replacement. Yadav, however, has struggled for consistency, featuring in just two games so far. They also have a spin-bowling allrounder in Shahbaz Ahmed on the bench.
Only their net run rate separates third-placed Royal Challengers with table-toppers Mumbai. They've won seven out of their 11 games and are primed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016, when they finished runners-up. The Royal Challengers play two of the top three - Mumbai and the Delhi Capitals - to round off the league stages.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo