India’s premier fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah has begun his rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru as he continues his road to recovery. The BCCI is optimistic that the bowling mainstay would be available to play in the ODI World Cup later this year at home.
Bumrah was first out of action after the ODI series against England in July 2022, when he complained of back spasms that had been affecting him for a while. He was rested from the limited overs tour to the Windies and began his rehabilitation at the NCA. He was later ruled out from the Asia Cup in UAE as the BCCI did not want to rush his recovery with the T20 World Cup in Australia looming large in October-November last year.
He was included in the squad for the home T20I series against Australia in September, where he played the second and third matches, before getting injured again and was rested from the home series against South Africa as well. He was sent to the NCA again, in hopes that he would be match ready for the World Cup but that did not happen, as he was ruled out of the event on account of the short time frame of recovery from his recurring back injury.
Bumrah again underwent rehabilitation at the NCA for more than three months, missing the T20 World Cup, and the tours to New Zealand and Bangladesh. After being declared fit by the NCA in January, he was announced in the squad for the home ODIs against Sri Lanka, before being withdrawn as a precautionary measure to build his bowling resilience. He was also not included in the squad for the first two Tests against Australia, with skipper Rohit Sharma not wanting to rush him back into action. But the pacer was not named even in the remainder of the matches, missing the marquee Border-Gavaskar Trophy and the important ODI series entirely.
His absence from the Indian team was felt throughout the time he wasn’t fit. The Test team has been largely unaffected owing to the matches being played in the subcontinent where Indian spinners have dominated the opponent batters, and the pace battery is in a rich vein of form with Siraj and Shami being in spectacular form and Umesh also chipping in. These elements have covered up for Bumrah in India’s much-vaunted bowling attack.
It is in the limited overs formats that India have missed their ace bowler very much. India’s death-overs bowling has been hampered by Bumrah’s absence. While there is a large pool of fast bowlers for the management to choose from and that different bowlers have stood up at different times, none of them have shown the consistency to keep performing in the latter stages of a bowling innings. Some specialists like Harshal and Avesh have blown hot and cold, with none making a mark big enough to get selected for the T20 World Cup in Australia. Arshdeep Singh was a promising prospect who even performed well in the T20 World Cup, but couldn’t click against the might of England in the semifinal, where the knockout pressure once again got the better of the Indian team as they failed to take even a single wicket throughout the bowling innings and the Englishmen chased down 169 with four overs to spare.
Bumrah will also skip this year’s lPL, being a big miss to his IPL franchise, the Mumbai Indians. The MI team had been planning since 2022 to unleash the duo of Jofra Archer (England’s star pacer) and Jasprit Bumrah, who form an intimidating pair to thwart any opposition batting line-up. As Jofra Archer missed the 2022 edition due to stress fracture but got fit for this year, Bumrah hasn’t fully recovered and MI will again have to re-adjust their strategies to reverse their fortunes after last year’s wooden spoon finish.
Bumrah recently underwent a lower back surgery in New Zealand, and has begun his rehab at the NCA, with the BCCI hopeful that he would be fit to play in the World Cup in October-November. His recovery is crucial if the men in blue are to win the ODI World Cup again after 12 years. Fans would be eager to see their star pacer in action for the mega event.