'Jasprit Bumrah's X-factor will be missed'
Jasprit Bumrah just can't stop being in the news. Yesterday, it was due to a minor stress fracture in his lower back which has ruled him out for the three-Test series against South Africa starting October 2. Bumrah's rapid rise — the first Asian pacer to take a fifer in South Africa, England, Australia and West Indies — has made him one of the most feared bowlers in the world. His injury was detected at the preliminary stage while doing a routine radiological screening. Umesh Yadav has taken his place in the Test squad.
Bumrah was looking forward to playing his maiden Test in India. That has now been put on hold. Reports suggested that Bumrah could be out of action for at least two months. While an injury to a pace spearhead is never good news, experts are not fretting over it as India are playing in home conditions and are too strong to beat.
However, former India pacer Ajit Agarkar felt that India will miss Bumrah's X-factor. "In the 12 Tests that he [Bumrah] has played, he has done phenomenally well. The X-factor that he brings in is not easy to find. But in India, I can't imagine it [Bumrah's absence] will make a huge difference. If we had lost him to injury on an away tour then yes, it would have been difficult to cope with. India will miss certain qualities. If you look at the two teams, they [India] should beat South Africa with or without Bumrah. Spinners usually do bulk of the work in India," Agarkar told mid-day yesterday.
An able replacement
Ex-India pacer Karsan Ghavri said South Africa cannot relax even without Bumrah. "He [Bumrah] will be missed but we have an able replacement in Umesh. We have three quality bowlers [Mohd Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh] who have the ability to take 20 wickets. Our fast bowling is not just dependent on one bowler. South Africa are relatively an inexperienced team and we will have the upper hand," said Ghavri. The Indian team management has recognised that Bumrah is key to their success and his workload has been carefully managed, giving him appropriate rest between tournaments and formats.
Bumrah was not part of the two-Test series in India last year — the one-off Test v Afghanistan and West Indies. Since last year, Bumrah has figured in just 27 ODIs out of 44 matches Team India have played from February 2018. Out of 28 T20Is, India have played since February 2018, Bumrah has figured in 10. However, he played all 16 matches of the IPL for Mumbai Indians before the World Cup.
Agarkar put Bumrah's workload management and the injury in perspective. "It is not just playing matches. There is travel, gym and net sessions. It [injury] is one of those things which you have to accept. You cannot say that he has bowled 500 overs and that's why he has developed this stress fracture. You can bowl 20 overs and still suffer a stress fracture," said Agarkar, who had endured one on his foot in his playing days.
Impossible to stay injury-free
The former Mumbai Ranji Trophy-winning captain said it is impossible to stay injury-free when one bowls at 145kmph. "The kind of speed he is bowling at, there will be injuries! I can't think of anyone not going through that with that speed. I think Kapil Dev was an exception. I can't think of any fast bowler being injury-free. Even [Kapil] Paaji had certain injuries but there was enough time to recover then. We just hope it is not too bad and Bumrah can come back quickly," said Agarkar.
Bumrah's awkward action has always been a talking point but Agarkar though does not think his action has anything to do with the injury. "He has not had it [stress fracture] in the last five to six years, so it can't be because of his action. His action may look awkward, but it is pretty straight. At the crease, his head is pretty straight. It is just the stress you are putting on the body. In this case, it is his back. It has to be seen whether there is any change in his action which is putting any extra load on his body," Agarkar said.
What is a stress fracture?
A stress fracture is a fatigue-induced fracture of the bone caused by repeated stress over time. It occurs when muscles become fatigued and are unable to absorb added shock. Eventually, the fatigued muscle causes tiny cracks on the bone.
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