New Delhi/Dehradun: India's star cricketer Rishabh Pant had a miraculous escape when his luxury car crashed into a road divider and caught fire after he dozed off at the wheel on the Delhi-Dehradun highway in the early hours of Friday.
The 25-year-old, who was on his way to his hometown Roorkee to surprise his mother, suffered injuries on his head, back and feet but is in a stable condition following the accident that took place in Manglaur in Uttarakhand's Haridwar district around 5.30 am, police said.
The driver and other staff of a Haryana Roadways bus passing by helped the cricketer get out of the burning Mercedes Benz, said Haridwar Senior Superintendent of Police Ajai Singh. The car was completely charred and reduced to a mangled heap.
Pant, who was alone in the car, dozed off and the car hit the divider before bursting into flames, he said.
As concerns mounted about the extent of his injuries and whether they could impact his game, Dr Sushil Nagar, who treated Pant at the Emergency department of the Roorkee hospital where he was initially taken to, said there was no fracture but a ligament injury to the knee that would require further investigation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among those who sent in their best wishes for his speedy recovery.
"Distressed by the accident of noted cricketer Rishabh Pant. I pray for his good health and well-being. @RishabhPant17," the prime minister said on Twitter.
India's cricket board BCCI said in a statement that Pant has two cuts on his forehead, a ligament tear in his right knee. He has also hurt his right wrist, ankle, toe and has suffered abrasion injuries on his back.
He was rushed to Saksham hospital in nearby Roorkee from where he was referred to Max Hospital, Dehradun, about three hours away.
"When he was brought to our hospital, he was fully conscious and I spoke to him. He wanted to surprise his mother and was going back home," Dr Nagar of Saksham hospital told PTI.
Pant had two lacerations (blunt trauma) on his head but there were no stitches, Dr Nagar said.
"Reports of X-rays conducted at our hospital suggest that there are no bone injuries. Yes, there is a ligament tear on his right knee. How serious it is can only be detected after further investigation and a detailed MRI done."
Ligament injuries have various grades and it can take two to six months to regain complete fitness.
According to Dr Nagar, the big bruises on his back, pictures of which went viral on social media, are not burn injuries.
"The injuries happened because he jumped out of car by breaking the window as soon as it caught fire. As he landed on the side of the road on his rear, the skin peeled off. But those are not burn injuries and not very serious," he said.
Dr Ashish Yagnik, medical superintendent at Max Hospital, Dehradun, said Pant was evaluated by a team of orthopaedists and plastic surgeons.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said his government will bear the entire expense of Pant's treatment.
Dhami spoke to the cricketer's mother and assured her that the state government will provide all necessary support. He also spoke to officials and asked them to make all arrangements for his treatment.
Arrangement for an air ambulance would be made if required, he said.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India will see to it that Pant receives the best possible medical care and gets all the support he needs to come out of this traumatic phase, BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a statement about the keeper-batter who played a big role in India's two-Test series win against Bangladesh. He scored a match-winning knock of 93 in the second Test in Mirpur.
"The BCCI is in constant touch with Rishabh's family while the medical team is in close contact with the doctors currently treating Rishabh."
"My thoughts and prayers are with Rishabh Pant as he fights his way back to recovery... We will provide him with all the necessary support," Shah added in a tweet.
Get well messages poured in from his colleagues and fans in India and abroad.
DDCA secretary Siddharth Sahib Singh said in a statement, "We are all concerned but thankfully he is stable. We, at DDCA, are keeping a tab and wish him a speedy recovery."
Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar and many other teammates wished him speedy recovery.
"Praying for Rishabh Pant. Thankfully he is out of danger. Wishing @RishabhPant17 a very speedy recovery. Get well soon Champ," former India batter and National Cricket Academy chief VVS Laxman said.
"Wishing dear Pant a super speedy recovery. Bahut hi Jald swasth ho jaao," tweeted former India opener Virender Sehwag.
IPL franchise Delhi Capitals also wished speedy recovery for their skipper as head coach Ricky Ponting also sent his message from Down Under.
"Thinking about Rishabh. Get well soon, Skip," DC tweeted.
"Hope you're on the mend and back on your feet soon," Ponting wrote.
Pant's Delhi and India teammate Shikhar Dhawan tweeted: "Thank you God ki kaafi bachaav hogaya. Sending you lots of healing, prayers and positivity. May you regain your strength and good health soon."
Wishes also came in from across the border with Pakistani speed gun Shaheen Shah Afridi tweeting: "Praying for Pant."
"Hope there's nothing serious Pant. I wish you a quick recovery and many prayers bhai. InshaAllah you will be fine and back on the field very soon," wrote Pakistan seamer Hassan Ali.
England wicketkeeper-batter Jonny Bairstow, who broke his leg and dislocated his ankle during a freak injury while playing golf in September, joined in in wishing Pant.
Legendary India legspinner Anil Kumble, former India lefthander Suresh Raina, and former India women's pacer Jhulan Goswami wished Pant a fast recovery.
Pant was left out of the upcoming white-ball series against Sri Lanka beginning on January 3 as he was supposed to join the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru for strength and conditioning programme ahead of February's Border Gavaskar Trophy.
As of now, there is no clarity on his availability for the series against Australia.
Pant has scored 2,271 runs in 33 Tests so far with the help of five hundreds and 11 fifties. He has also represented the country in 30 ODIs and 66 T20Is.