India's Pant recovering, likely to miss Australia Tests

Indian cricketer Rishabh Pant is in "high spirits" and recovering from surgery after his horror car crash but will likely miss the upcoming Test series against Australia, media reports said Sunday.

The star wicketkeeper-batsman suffered several injuries when his Mercedes SUV crashed into the median before dawn on Friday as he was travelling alone from New Delhi to his hometown Roorkee, a few hours north of the Indian capital.

His car immediately caught fire and the 25-year-old was rescued by a bus driver and conductor on the highway.

Pant "is in high spirits and responding well to treatment... He underwent a plastic surgery on his left eyebrow where he suffered a cut in the accident," Shyam Sharma of the Delhi and District Cricket Association told The Times of India.

The cricketer also suffered a ligament injury in his right knee, hurt his wrist, ankle, and has abrasion injuries on his back, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said in a statement.

Sharma said the BCCI was monitoring Pant's treatment and was in "constant touch" with his medical team.

"As far as the ligament injury in his right knee is concerned, he will take some time to recover. He will be provided the best possible treatment," he added.

A BCCI staffer quoted by the Press Trust of India news agency said Pant faced a prolonged absence from competitive cricket and would likely miss the four-Test Australia series at home starting February 9.

A maverick batsman, Pant is the mainstay of the Test squad and has played a key role in some of India's most memorable wins in the last three years.

But his white-ball form has been inconsistent lately and Pant was left out of the squad for the T20 and ODI tour by Sri Lanka starting next week.

The wicketkeeper's omission came days after his match-winning innings of 93 in the second Test against Bangladesh, helping India secure a 2-0 series whitewash.

Fans and members of India's cricket fraternity have expressed shock at the news and wished Pant a speedy recovery.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Friday he was distressed by the accident and had prayed for Pant's good health.

Bus driver Sushil Kumar and his conductor, who helped Pant out of his car, have been hailed as heroes for their response to the near-fatal crash.

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