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India vs Australia: Bumrah in playing XI key to arsenal

Team India banks on ‘fit & fine’ pacer to bolster bowling in must-win game
Jasprit Bumrah
Jasprit Bumrah
File Photo

Our Bureau   |   Calcutta   |   Published 23.09.22, 03:16 AM

Will he or won’t he? Play, that is. Team India is keeping its fingers crossed on Jasprit Bumrah’s inclusion in the XI for Friday’s must-win second T20I against Australia in Nagpur.

Under the circumstances, Bumrah’s inclusion would obviously be the best tonic for the under-fire Indian bowling attack that has been unable to defend stiffer totals. After failures against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup, the bowlers couldn’t defend even a 200-plus total in the first T20I in Mohali, which the Australians won by four wickets with as many balls to spare.

Agreed, all the T20Is Rohit Sharma and his teammates will be playing in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup in Australia next month are more about their preparation and getting ready for the big event. But losing yet another series after a disappointing Asia Cup campaign and that too, at home, wouldn’t really augur well for the team going into a World Cup. 

From that perspective as well, Friday’s game at the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium is critical for India as they need to win it not just to keep the series alive but also to ensure their mindset doesn’t take a further hit before the big event. Also, it certainly won’t be an ideal moment for skipper Rohit to suffer a series loss at home in the presence of BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, who’s set to be present during the game.

Of course, considering the fickle nature of T20 cricket, the world champions too may have a forgettable day out in the middle and collapse, making matters easier for the Indians. But it would surely bring some relief to the bowling unit if Bumrah is back in the XI. “Jasprit is fit and fine... Absolutely no problems with him,” No.4 batsman Suryakumar Yadav said on the eve of the game.

Whether Bumrah returns to the XI or not, in terms of bowling, the Indian team management does need to put its thinking cap on to figure out the best combination. Continuing with Umesh Yadav, who conceded 27 off his two overs and got those two wickets simply because Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell played poor shots, may not be the wisest thing to do. 

If the management feels Arshdeep Singh needs a little more rest ahead of the bigger assignments ahead, there’s Deepak Chahar at its disposal.  As for the struggling Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the team seems to be having unwavering faith in the senior pacer. But unless he tests Australian batsmen in the Powerplay, India ought to be having another bowler ready to bowl the penultimate over of the opposition’s innings.

Batting-wise, India doesn’t seem to be having many reasons to worry about. They would hope captain Rohit and Virat Kohli get some runs, while a decision may again have to be taken on whether to continue with Dinesh Karthik as the wicketkeeper-batsman or bring Rishabh Pant back. 

Rain threat

There are chances of rain in Nagpur on Friday. It rained on Thursday too with both teams having to cancel their match-eve training sessions. 

“If it rains during the course of the game, it could be a problem. But there’s no reason to worry if it rains in the morning or afternoon as we’ve got four super-soppers and other facilities capable of drying the ground fast,” a senior VCA official said.

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