NEW DELHI: A tournament that India hasn’t managed to conquer since the inaugural edition in 2007. A tournament in which the last outing ended in a heartbreaking group stage exit for the Men in Blue, marking the first instance in 9 years of India not playing the semi-finals of an ICC tournament. And now a tournament where India won’t have the services of their number one bowler – Jasprit Bumrah. In the space of less than a month Team India were dealt two big blows – first key all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was ruled out and then came the Bumrah blow.
Injuries and sport go hand in hand. The trouble though is that though Jadeja’s absence can be masked (especially if someone like Axar Patel, who is a like-for-like replacement for Jadeja performs well), there is no one who can be a like-for-like replacement for Bumrah.
This was a sentiment that was echoed by former Australian cricketer Shane Watson as well.
“If you ask me a possible like-for-like replacement for Bumrah, there is none. There’s no one really in the world. He is just that incredibly skillful. Whether it’s with a brand-new ball, whether it’s in the death overs, he’s got amazing skill. And that’s the reason he’s done such an incredible job for India as well. So, there’s no like for like replacement (possible),” Watson told TimesofIndia.com in an interview.
Jasprit Bumrah (AFP Photo)
Bumrah was officially ruled out of the T20 World Cup with a back injury on October 3. As per the BCCI, the decision was taken following a detailed assessment and in consultation with specialists.
Bumrah was initially ruled out of the three-match T20I series against South Africa, which India won 2-1, with a back injury. BCCI’s medical team ruled out Bumrah from the mega event a day before the third and final T20I against the Proteas.
India are yet to name an official replacement for Bumrah for the T20 World Cup.
In Bumrah’s absence the role that the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel and Arshdeep Singh, who are part of the World Cup squad, will play becomes much more important. Though Bhuvi is quite experienced, there is no fast bowling spearhead as such. Mohammed Shami, from the stand-by list is the favourite to be named official replacement for Bumrah. But Shami himself hasn’t been a 100% and missed the home series vs Australia and South Africa with a bout of COVID-19.
Mohammed Shami (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
In Bumrah’s absence India’s death overs bowling problems have been further exposed.
“The bowler who can perform in the back end of a game with the ball for India, in Bumrah’s absence, is Arshdeep or Siraj. Both (Arshdeep and Siraj) can bowl very aggressively, and nicely at the back end of the game. It’s going to be a tough call though,” Watson further told TimesofIndia.com.
Mohammed Siraj is currently part of the Indian ODI squad that is taking on South Africa in the 3 match series at home. Another name that is doing the rounds as a possible replacement is Deepak Chahar, who was named as one of the stand-by players for the World Cup. Chahar is also part of the ODI squad that is taking on the Proteas and hasn’t flown to Australia yet with the rest of the World Cup squad. Shami is not part of the ODI series, but will have to prove his fitness at the NCA. Head Coach Rahul Dravid has talked about how the team management will be keeping a close eye on Shami’s progress. Teams who are already in the Super 12 stage have till October 15 to make changes to their World Cup squads, without ICC permission.
Another big talking point now, after Bumrah was ruled out of the marquee event has been whether his workload management was monitored and executed properly.
Jasprit Bumrah (AFP Photo)
Bumrah had made a comeback after being sidelined for two months due to back spasms (in July after India’s tour of England). He made a comeback in the 3-match T20I series against Australia.
The 28-year-old was rested in the opening game but went to play the remaining two games. He bowled two overs, conceding 23 runs, and took one wicket (Aaron Finch for 31) in the second game and then returned with expensive figures 4-0-50-0 in the third match. Throughout he didn’t look like he was firing on all cylinders.
Bumrah was included for the series against South Africa too, but the recurrence of his back injury once again ruled him out a day before the commencement of the three-match T20I rubber.
“I’m not exactly sure about the details of how he has been managed. It’s obviously very disappointing for Bumrah. But just knowing as a fast bowler, doing what he does, there’s always at some stage going to be some injury concerns (or the other) because it’s just the unfortunate nature of being a fast bowler,” Watson, who played 59 Tests, 190 ODIs, and 58 T20Is for Australia between 2002 and 2016, further told TimesofIndia.com.