India's hopes of regaining the Twenty20 World Cup have suffered a huge blow with pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah being ruled out of the mega event. Bumrah will miss the showpiece with a back stress fracture and is expected to be out for a lengthy period. All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was already left out of the World Cup squad after undergoing a knee surgery.
Bumrah's absence means Indian captain Rohit Sharma will be hard-pressed for options at the death. Experienced seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has struggled to contain runs in the final overs recently. Another death-over specialist Harshal Patel himself has returned from an injury lay-off and has yet to hit top form.
Rookie left-armer Arshdeep Singh is the favourite to shoulder the responsibility. Arshdeep made his mark by nailing yorkers at will while playing for Punjab Kings in the Indian Premier League. He showed a big heart while attempting to defend six runs both against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the recent Asia Cup. Despite bowling his heart out, Arshdeep could not prevent the losses. But the signs are encouraging.
However, who will partner him at the other end is the big worry for the Indian team management. Swing bowler Deepak Chahar could take Bumrah's place in the World Cup squad. However, Chahar too is mostly a Powerplay bowler like Bhuvneshwar.
The batters seem to be picking Harshal's slower ones without much trouble and the Haryana seamer will have to be at the top of his game if India are to mount a serious challenge in Australia.
Seasoned campaigner Mohammed Shami missed the recent Australia series with Covid and has been ruled out of the ongoing South Africa series too. Both Chahar and Shami are the pacers in the four-member reserves.
India open their campaign against Pakistan at the MCG on October 23 and it remains to be seen whether the selectors will pick Shami with him having played very little T20 cricket of late.