Until there is definitive word on Jasprit Bumrah’s back injury and his availability for the T20 World Cup in Australia starting on October 22 (the main group matches), India’s bowling plans will likely be clouded in uncertainty. Ahead of the second T20I against South Africa on Sunday at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium in Guwahati, coach Rahul Dravid indicated that the team management would rather wait for the spearhead who has sustained a recurring back injury.
“Bumrah has gone to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) and we are waiting for official confirmation of the next steps. He is only excluded from this series as of now; we’ll see what happens in the next few days. Until I get official confirmation that he has been completely ruled out, we will always remain hopeful. We hope for the best for us as a team, but also for Jasprit as an individual,” Dravid told reporters on Saturday. India won the first T20I in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday by eight wickets.
Bumrah’s injury is the biggest setback as India heads to the World Cup – they play their first match against Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on October 23. He is not the only concern for injuries. Deepak Hooda is dealing with a back injury while Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are resting for this series to do conditioning related work at the NCA. Arshdeep Singh has just returned from similar work at NCA, having missed the Australia series. Mohammed Shami, a World Cup standby, has missed the series against Australia and South Africa due to Covid.
Dravid said: “We have been pretty clear within the team about the kind of players we are likely to play in an XI (before the opening game against Pakistan). You can’t pick an 11 in advance without knowing the wicket, but we’ve been very clear about the skills we want in a squad of 15. We wanted different types of bowlers and certain hitting skills. We’ve always been clear about that.”
In the group stage, India will face Pakistan, South Africa, Bangladesh and two qualifiers at four different locations: MCG, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide. Dravid, appointed head coach after last year’s T20 World Cup flop, suggested India has almost all bases covered this time around.
“For the most part, we managed to get hold of everything. Not everything will be perfect due to injuries and other factors. But I think we feel good about having all the skills for different wickets and oppositions. That is very important in a World Cup. You really have to have that versatility in the squad that allows you to change things up if you need to against a particular opponent. We haven’t been able to play against that team in the last few series for various reasons and that can happen. But most of the 15-year-olds have had quite a bit of cricket in the last six months,” he said.
If Bumrah doesn’t make it to the World Cup, questions will likely arise about the injury management protocols within the Indian team and NCA. The 28-year-old missed the Asian Cup in August and September due to a back injury and returned to the Indian squad for the Australian and South African T20Is after rehab at NCA. The injury appears to have flared up after just two games against the Aussies.
“Injuries are part of the game. We are not the only team to be injured,” said Dravid. “Obviously when it happens closer to a big tournament it can disrupt your plans a bit. Everyone is doing their utmost to limit injuries as much as possible. We work really hard with our sports science team, and even at NCA. We are following their advice, but despite all this, there is no team in the world that can say it is not injured.”