Ireland vs India: Jasprit Bumrah will be the focus of all eyes when he leads India against Ireland in a three-match T20 International series that begins Friday, after 11 months hobbling off the field. The side is full of India's Gen-Next IPL talents
Jasprit Bumrah (Pic: AFP)
Ireland vs India: Jasprit Bumrah will be the focus of all eyes when he leads India against Ireland in a three-match T20 International series that begins Friday, after 11 months hobbling off the field.
The side is full of India`s Gen-Next IPL talents like Ruturaj Gaikwad, Rinku Singh, and Jitesh Sharma, but stakeholders in Indian cricket will be watching Bumrah closely, as he will be crucial to the home team`s plans for the ODI World Cup, which begins in less than two months.
Bumrah, 29, is back after undergoing surgery to heal lower-back stress fractures he suffered during a home series against Australia ahead of the T20 World Cup last year.
He will bowl a maximum of 12 overs in three games over five days, but this series will provide Ajit Agarkar, ODI skipper Rohit Sharma, and head coach Rahul Dravid a good indication of where the Gujarat slinger stands in terms of match fitness. However, 50-over cricket is a different beast, requiring him to deliver 10 overs in two, three, or maybe four-over periods.
The BCCI uploaded Bumrah`s bowling footage on its official social media handle, in which he was seen rushing a right-hander with a well-disguised short-ball and then almost yorked a left-hander with a toe-crusher, a reassuring sight for the Indian team management. The match circumstances will be quite different, and both Dravid and Rohit have previously burned their hands by hurrying him too soon before the T20 World Cup in Australia last year.
The outcomes were devastating. That was his final series before the longest layoff in his seven-year international career.
He was named to a home series earlier this year, only to be pulled out at the last minute due to a career-threatening injury.
The Ireland series not only gives Bumrah an ideal opportunity to add miles to his legs but will also help him get ready for the Asia Cup, where he will be pitted against the likes of Babar Azam upfront on September 2.
Ireland, led by Andrew Balbirnie with useful players like Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, left-arm spinner George Dockrell are a quality side in the shortest format even though they are yet to win a match against India till now. Their left-arm seamer Josh Little was an integral part of Gujarat Titans squad last year and wouldn`t mind to show what he is capable of against an Indian team full of performers.
The players in this Indian team, save Bumrah and Sanju Samson, will be vying for gold medal at the Asian Games in Hangzhou and the core team would be keen to make most of the three T20Is.
The one player, whose place would surely be under the scanner is Sanju Samson. He is unlikely to get into the playing XI unless head coach Sitanshu Kotak gets a standing instruction from main team management to play the Kerala man ahead of Asia Cup.
Two exciting IPL finds -- Jitesh and Rinku are expected to get their T20 India caps while Shivam Dube would be itching for a shot at redemption.
Just like Bumrah, even Prasidh Krishna is making a comeback to competitive cricket and before his lower back stress fracture injury which also required a surgery, the Bengaluru fast bowler was a certainty in ODI set-up. It is expected that selectors would check out Krishna`s form before taking a final call on the Asia Cup squad expected to be announced by the end of this week.
It will be interesting to see how players and the team management balance individual and team goals while keeping the big picture in mind.
India: Jasprit Bumrah (C), Ruturaj Gaikwad (VC), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Tilak Varma, Rinku Singh, Sanju Samson (wk), Jitesh Sharma (wk), Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Shahbaz Ahmed, Ravi Bishnoi, Prasidh Krishna, Arshdeep Singh, Mukesh Kumar, Avesh Khan.
Ireland: Andrew Balbirnie (captain), Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Ross Adair, Mark Adair, Curtis Campher, Gareth Delany, George Dockrell, Fionn Hand, Josh Little, Barry McCarthy, Ben White, Craig Young, Theo van Weorkom.
(With agency inputs)