Mumbai: With the BCCI confirming Jasprit Bumrah has been ruled out of the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia this month, the team has been dealt a major blow and speculation has begun who will lead the pace attack as India aim to regain the title they won in 2007.
In a straight pace-for-pace swap, veteran quick Mohammad Shami and Deepak Chahar in the reserves and Mohammed Siraj as a third option outside the two could replace the 28-year-old Bumrah in the squad. With the kind of experience Shami has he last played a T20I in 2021 at the T20 World Cup in the UAE – experts believe India shouldn’t look beyond the stalwart, though his career economy rate of 9.54 goes against him.
Siraj is another potential candidate to replace Bumrah given his powerplay and death-overs expertise and the Royal Challengers Bangalore player is probably one of the quicker bowlers around in the country. Also, while Chahar might lack the pace that Shami and Siraj possess, he is a much-improved bowler in recent times and also contributes to batting depth, according to ICC.
Another option for India could be to name a batting-heavy XI to negate the shortcoming in the bowling department. With Hardik Pandya emerging as a more-than-reliable all-round option, India could go batting heavy and bank on just the five bowlers to cover for Bumrah’s absence.
Having Harshal Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin — all bowlers capable of wielding the bat as well give India the options to bat deep, according to ICC.
Setting larger totals by going batting heavy could help reduce the onus on the bowling attack to maintain the kind of economy rate Bumrah gave in his quota of overs.
Besides, having wicket-taking spin or high-pace options in the middle overs could also be looked at to reduce the chances of the opponents’ best batters being out there in the death overs.
Former Australia all-rounder Shane Watson says he would likely go with a pace-for-pace swap and bring someone like Mohammad Siraj to replace Bumrah, though he added no one in the world can replace the 28-year-old quick. Watson feels Siraj’s firepower with the new ball is comparable with Bumrah’s, which would be “vital” on Australian wickets.
“The player I would put in if Jasprit’s not available is Mohammad Siraj, because of the firepower he presents,” Watson said on The ICC Review. “Without Bumrah, that’s the one thing India won’t necessarily have, which is vital on Australian wickets on the bigger grounds with the pace and bounce. Siraj is great with the brand new ball. He is fast, he swings the ball away but also his defensive skills are pretty good,” added Watson.
Watson felt Siraj had learnt quite a few tricks of the trade playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
“And he’s got better over the last couple of years, with what we’ve seen in the IPL. So, for me he’s probably going to be the one who is going to have the most impact,” added Watson.