Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna
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USA's 2022 T20 World Cup Qualifier chances have taken a hit with fast bowler Ali Khan ruled out for the rest of the tournament with a fracture in his right forearm. He will fly this week from Zimbabwe back to Texas, where he is scheduled for surgery to insert a plate and screws to help repair the injury and is expected to be out for a minimum of six weeks.
The injury happened in the 19th over of the first innings against Jersey on the opening day of the tournament on Monday, when Jersey batter Ben Ward drove a full delivery straight back to Ali. The 31-year-old fast bowler tried to get his hands up to protect his face while also attempting to catch the ball, but it struck the outside of his forearm, just above his wrist and ricocheted away for two runs.
Ali reacted immediately in severe pain and a several-minute delay ensued while he received treatment from the USA physiotherapist. He then tried to bowl one more delivery but his inability to grip the ball properly from the pain resulted in the ball sailing 10 yards wide of the pitch down the leg side to the boundary for five no balls. Ali then walked off the field immediately and took no further part in the match, which USA won by eight wickets chasing a target of 155 with 11 balls to spare, thanks to a century from Steven Taylor.
USA won their second match of the tournament on Tuesday, defeating Singapore by 132 runs after posting a total of 201 before bowling out Singapore for 69 in reply. However, a far bigger test of USA's bowling depth without Ali will come when they take on hosts Zimbabwe in the Group A finale on Thursday. Both teams have already qualified for the tournament semi-final, but the result will determine the seeding for the playoff phase.
"My heart goes out to Ali," said USA fast bowler Saurabh Netravalkar at the post-match presentation following USA's win over Singapore after he claimed his side's first-ever T20I five-wicket haul with figures of 5 for 12. "We want to do it for him. We want to make it to the World Cup for him. That's what we promised him and we'll do our best."
As of Tuesday, USA Cricket had not announced a replacement player for Ali in their T20 World Cup Qualifier squad. It is unlikely that a player would arrive in time to be available for USA's final Group A match against Zimbabwe on Thursday but may possibly be available for the semi-final on Friday. Among the options being considered according to sources are New Jersey fast bowler Jessy Singh and Florida fast bowler Kyle Phillip.
Ali's injury not only ends his tournament early but may also put his participation in the Caribbean Premier League in doubt. He was re-signed by Trinbago Knight Riders for the 2022 edition which is set to start on August 31. Ali has represented TKR in every edition of the tournament since 2018.
Ali shot to T20 franchise cricket superstardom in the 2018 CPL, taking 16 wickets for the eventual champions. He was part of another TKR title-winning side in 2020, and his performances that season helped him get signed as a replacement player in the 2020 IPL for Kolkata Knight Riders, making him the first USA player ever signed by an IPL franchise. However, he never took the field for KKR during that season.