Jasprit Bumrah, injured. Mohammed Shami, rested. No Ishant Sharma or Umesh Yadav either. The fabled quartet of Indian pace attack is missing as the Rohit Sharma-led side gets ready to take on the West Indies in the first of two Test matches starting Wednesday in Roseau, Dominica. Among the pace bowlers, Mohammed Siraj (19 Tests) travels as the most experienced of the lot. While Shardul Thakur (9), Jaydev Unadkat (2), Navdeep Saini (2) and Mukesh Kumar don’t have the same experienced all combined.
The Indian skipper lend thoughts on the absence of the big names and the opportunity to some new ones in the upcoming series.
“We’ve seen that the pacers have taken a lot of wickets here. But it is what it is. Players get injured and we have to rotate them unfortunately. Humare paas fast bowlers ki line nahi lagi hui hai (We don’t have abundance of pacers). In India, there are a lot of bowlers who are injured. The ones we have, we need to manage them. Which is why our experienced bowlers couldn’t come on this tour,” Rohit told reporters on Tuesday.
The 36-year-old however went on to add that he has “a lot of confidence in the new ones we have here.”
“Jaydev (Unadkat) isn’t new, he made his debut 10-12 years back. Mukesh Kumar has performed consistently in domestic cricket. He has done well for his state as well as in zonal games and for India A. We’ll see the combination we need to pick.”
Among the top names, Jasprit Bumrah has been out of action since September last year owing to a recurring back injury. Mohammed Shami – who had been India’s lead pacer in Bumrah’s absence – has been rested following an excruciating bilateral season in India followed by the IPL and a World Test Championship Final.
“For Indian cricket, this will always be a challenge since we play a lot of cricket,” Rohit added. “We have to manage players, rotate them, give them enough break so that they are fresh. We also need to remember the big tournament that’s coming up. We need to keep everyone fresh for the World Cup. That’s also something we have to remember because right now we don’t have the luxury to focus on one particular series. It’s also beneficial since the new players are also getting an opportunity. We also need to create bench strength. It gives us an idea how those in the background who’ve been working hard handle the pressure at the international stage.”