Is Jasprit Bumrah fully fit and ready to bowl 10 overs?

It will be assessed whether Bumrah can bowl four overs in a match in the T20 series against Ireland without any trouble before potentially taking him to 10 in the Asia Cup.

Return of Jasprit Bumrah vs IREBumrah’s pace, unique bowling action, brains and guile give the Indian attack a definite edge, provided he has fully recovered from his back injury and is fit and firing at his best. (Reuters)

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A few weeks ago, a long video surfaced of Jasprit Bumrah bowling at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. It caused a viral wave of relief and celebration among fans. From that distance, one couldn’t make out much about Bumrah’s bowling: it’s the same action, if he lifts his non-bowling arm at all, the pace is good, but it was enough for the fans to go wild with hope. Then more recently came another video, again shot from a distance with a voice even asking “is that Bumrah?”, this time bowling to KL Rahul. Once again a flood of relief followed. Such was the extent of the problems in the post-Bumrah world of Indian cricket.

A cursory look back at India’s T20I series loss to the West Indies would reveal that the hosts simply had to play the spin threat of Kuldeep Yadav, and occasionally Yuzvendra Chahal, while dealing with the weak link of the attack – the pace bowling element.

Arshdeep Singh and Mukesh Kumar didn’t disappoint anyone with their efforts but nobody expected them to even get through a fragile batting line-up like West Indies.

In the series decider on Sunday, Nicholas Pouran and Brandon King simply had to ensure that Kuldeep remained unscathed – the chinaman bowler finished with figures of 0/18 from his four overs – but the home side still comfortably reached the home, revising a total of 165 with two overs to lose by just two wickets. Mukesh and Arshdeep bowled a total of three overs between them, conceding 30 runs and taking a solitary wicket. For much of the T20I series, skipper Hardik Pandya looked the strongest contender to take India’s wicket, but even he wouldn’t consider himself the leader of the pace attack.

It is here that the impending returns of Jasprit Bumrah and Prasidh Krishna during the upcoming T20I series against Ireland become important. The outcome of the three games is almost a foregone conclusion, and will be little more than a footnote in the larger scheme of things anyway. With the 50-over World Cup just over seven weeks away, it is how Prasidh and Bumrah, especially the latter, react to the workload that will be of much greater interest to fans.

With Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj cottoned on ahead of the big event and Bumrah and Prasidh sidelined through injury, the strength of India’s pace bowling bench, the envy of the cricketing world not long ago, has suddenly been revealed. Avesh Khan and Shivam Mavi still lack experience, while selectors don’t seem to trust Umesh Yadav for the white bull. As for Jaydev Unadkat, he has the advantage of left-arm angle and plenty of experience but is not likely to give sleepless nights to quality batsmen.

With the World Cup being played in India, spinners are expected to enjoy favorable conditions, but a bowler of Bumrah’s quality doesn’t need the surface or the overheads to help him make an impact. Moreover, India have often found themselves losing spin-friendly surfaces in recent years (in the recent Caribbean tour and the ODI series decider against Australia in Chennai earlier this year, to name two instances), making imperative the pace bowling side of things is running smoothly.

A fully customized Bumrah is good enough

Bumrah’s pace, unique bowling action, brains and guile give the Indian attack a definite edge, provided he has fully recovered from his back injury and is fit and firing at his best. A bowling line-up featuring Bumrah, Shami, Siraj, Kuldeep and Ravindra Jadeja will prompt Indian fans to dream of great things in October-November.

However, the Indian selectors had previously mistakenly reinstated Bumrah too soon after the injury. In the rush ahead of last year’s T20 World Cup in Australia, the spearhead was unavailable for almost a year. That’s why pundits are first assessing whether he can bowl four overs in a match without any problems before potentially putting him in the 10 in the Asia Cup and the home ODI series against Australia just before the World Cup.

Even Prasidh is highly regarded by the selectors and the Indian team management for his ability to produce bounce from a length and even if he can’t break into a first line-up, he will be a worthy alternative if he returns to form. where he was before his injury.

With India’s middle order still uncertain and not much time left for the big event – ​​the fitness status of KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer shrouded in mystery – the Indian bowling can be talked about to keep their campaign alive. You will rely on a responsive Bumrah to make early breakthroughs, take wickets in the middle overs and also continue to score under control at the death. His partnership with Shami has been a treat for the cricketer and may hold the key, alongside the Jadeja-Kuldeep partnership, to how far the hosts can go.

Shami generally relies on his Test-match skills, not much into variety and change of pace even in T20 cricket, while there seems to be no limit to what Bumrah can do with the ball. Yorkers, slower balls, bouncers and cutters come easily to him.

Most of the other teams are getting into final form for the World Cup, while the hosts still seem to be in the evaluation stage. But one thing is certain: they will give Bumrah as much time as they can before making a final decision. It is so vital to their prospects.

Bumrah at his best automatically puts the batsmen on the defensive which, in the era of ever-higher ODI scores, is half the battle won. Getting wickets is the best way to limit the run rate and Bumrah is better than most in this regard.

First published on: 15-08-2023 at 21:06 IST

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