Jasprit Bumrah will miss the three ODIs against Sri Lanka and is in doubt for the Test series versus Australia, starting next month, since he will require more time for his rehabilitation.
The fast bowler had been added to the ODI squad last week but renewed stiffness on his back forced the team management and National Cricket Academy (NCA) physio Nitin Patel to continue with the rehab process. He did not travel with the team to Guwahati.
“It’s an unfortunate incident with him,” Rohit Sharma said on the eve of the first ODI. “The poor guy has been working very hard at the NCA all this time. Just when he got back to full fitness, he started bowling and everything, the last two days I think this incident happened where he felt a little bit of stiffness in his back.
“It’s nothing major, it’s just stiffness. (But) when Bumrah says anything we have to be very cautious about it. I thought it was important for us to make that decision then, to just pull him out.
“When we named him (in the squad), he was in the process of getting his workload done. We need to be very careful with him. He had a major injury before the (T20) World Cup. So we just need to be careful,” the India captain remarked.
Bumrah had been going through his rehab at the NCA in Bangalore since last September for a stress reaction in his back and started bowling only last month. He hadn’t been included in India’s original ODI squad against Sri Lanka, announced on December 27.
Sources told The Telegraph that while he will not be risked for the ODI and T20I series against New Zealand either, a call on whether he can play all four Tests of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy will be taken towards the end of this month.
“The priorities are clear in a World Cup year. If all goes well, he may feature in a Test or two. With Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav available, the team management is not willing to risk Bumrah in a home Test series. Bumrah will be the X-factor and getting him fit for the ODI showpiece event is more important,” someone in the know of things said.
It is understood that Bumrah successfully passed the match-simulation tests at the NCA before being declared fit for ODI selection. He was made to go through further bowling spells with a higher workload in Mumbai under Patel, the head of NCA’s sports science wing, earlier this month.
But following fresh stiffness in his back muscle, the advice was to take a cautious approach to Bumrah’s availability for the ODI series against Sri Lanka. The NCA, in consultation with the team management, then chose to continue with Bumrah’s rehab for another three weeks. Even chief selector Chetan Sharma was informed about the decision much later.
The BCCI subsequently termed the delay in his comeback as a “precautionary measure,” and that Bumrah was being withdrawn from the ODIs against Sri Lanka because he needed “some more time to build bowling resilience.”
The manner of Bumrah’s return has been debated for some time now since there is a feeling that he should play a Ranji Trophy match before being rushed into international cricket. The NCA, if needed, could keep a tab on his workload in the Ranjimatch by working in tandem with the state side. There is also talk that the team management could give Bumrahshort spells if he plays the Test matches against Australia.
Bumrah’s availability is also crucial in case India qualify to play the World Test Championship final in June. Rohit’s men are placed second in the table after Australia and next month’s series will decide their fate.