Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been brought back into the Indian squad for the rest of the three ODIs against West Indies and that has had the fans wondering what’s the thinking behind it. After all, it looked like the duo was rested for the bigger things ahead.
And one of those bigger things is the tour of Australia where India will be playing three T20Is and four Tests, which will be followed by one in New Zealand. That is precisely why the decision to rest India’s best pace bowling attack was quite logical and met with collective hurrahs from the Indian fans from the length and the breadth of the country.
After all, everyone saw how things went pear-shaped when Bhuvneshwar was ruled out of the entire Test against England and Bumrah managed to feature in just the final three games. Why then, would the Indian team management decide to bring them back in a series that holds very little importance in the entire grand scheme of things.
The grand scheme of things, as I refer to earlier, consists of not just the series in Australia and New Zealand but also the World Cup and the Indian Premier League before that tournament. Because one thing’s almost certain and that is the IPL franchises wouldn’t be obliging when it came to resting their star players during the tournament because there’s a World Cup to be won.
The management might have at least two reasons for the recall of Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah though.
One, West Indies have proven to be a way tougher opposition than they thought. While the Windies bowling has barely scratched the Indian batting surfaces, their batting has twice now reached the 300+ run mark. In the second ODI, poor bowling in dewy conditions almost cost India the game before they held their nerves to tie it.
The other reason could be this was always the plan. To give the pace bowling duo two or three games before the tour of Australia to get them back into rhythm – after all their last competitive game came at the Asia Cup, nearly a month ago, so they have had their break.
Both are valid arguments but there is another overbearing one against their selection.
India will be going into the 2019 World Cup with quite a few spots in the squad still to be taken and one of them is the backup seam bowling option. Assuming Hardik Pandya gets fit, he will be a part of the fast bowling line-up with Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar but what happens if either of them breaks down or goes through a form rut?
Does India know who their back-up fast bowling options are? At least two of them?
This would have been an ideal opportunity for someone like Khaleel Ahmed, who is still a part of the Indian squad, and Navdeep Saini or Mohammad Siraj to have got that chance and bowl in tandem with one of Mohammad Shami or Umesh Yadav in game situations.
Unfortunately what this means is that India are left with very little time to decide on Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah’s back-up and might even need to blood someone straightaway for the New Zealand ODIs. For India’s sake the selectors would hope, neither Bhuvi nor Bumrah suffer from any major fitness concerns heading into the World Cup leaving the management with a hole they cannot plug at the eleventh hour.