India embarked for Australia ahead of the 2022 T20 World Cup without a 15th player in their main squad, delaying the announcement of their last member just weeks ahead of their first game in the tournament.
Jasprit Bumrah, part of India’s initially announced squad, pulled out of the competition after a back injury failed to heal, leaving the team with a massive problem to deal with so close to the tournament, a blow to their T20 odds. He is India’s second high-profile absence from the tournament, with Ravindra Jadeja having already been ruled out due to a knee injury. Bumrah’s replacement could come down to a choice between two or three seamers currently in action, but it’s worth noting that they have recently had a big pool of players at their disposal in white-ball cricket. A few of those, though, have been pegged back by injuries or illness – India’s fast-bowling infirmary ward has seen quite a few additions of late.
India’s seamers at the T20 World Cup: Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Arshdeep Singh, Hardik Pandya (all-rounder). Deepak Chahar and Mohammed Shami are standby players.
Here’s a list of India quicks unavailable from T20Is due to injury:
Status: Recovering from back stress fracture
It’s the kind of absence that can break a World Cup campaign. A Bumrah-sized hole further debilitates an already struggling Indian bowling attack ahead of the marquee event. It’s the death overs where the impact is felt the hardest, as does the lack of experience in playing on Australian pitches. There’s no certainty yet over Bumrah’s recovery timeline, and although there are a string of options to replace him, the difference in quality will certainly be difficult to compensate for.
Status: Recovering from Covid-19
Shami was initially part of the squads for the home series against Australia and South Africa before an untimely bout of Covid-19 ruled him out of action. He could have made his first T20I appearance since the T20 World Cup last year. Now recovered [he posted about the same on his Instagram handle], and part of the standby list in Australia, Shami will be hoping to make it to the main squad in Bumrah’s absence. The lack of recent game time could be a worry: he last played in an ODI, in July.
Status: Recovering/recovered from a back injury
Prasidh hasn’t played any T20Is yet, but a foray into the shortest format doesn’t seem unlikely, having impressed in ODIs since his debut against England last March. Since his debut, no India seamer has taken more ODI wickets (25 at 23.92). His ability to target hard lengths with extra bounce, and make the ball skid off the surface can be useful traits with the new ball. However, due to a back injury, he was ruled out of the India A four-day games against New Zealand last month, pushing him further away from an India spot. His absence from the one-dayers against South Africa suggests that he’s still not fully recovered.
Status: Prolonged absence due to recurring knee injury
When Natarajan graduated from net bowler to unlikely hero during India’s historic 2020/21 Australia tour, many predicted a bright future for the left-armer – a species of seamer that has become rare in the India team. He played just one series thereafter – England’s tour to India last year – after which he lost his foothold, pushed back by injuries and the return of several first-choice bowlers. A recurring knee injury has continued to cause problems since: he returned to the Tamil Nadu squad for the upcoming Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy last month, although the road to India contention could end up being a long one for the 31-year-old. It won’t just be about proving match fitness: in his absence, Arshdeep Singh, a much younger left-arm seamer, has taken giant strides.
Status: Recovering from a groin injury
Quick and skiddy, Saini seemed to fit nicely in India’s plans when he debuted in 2019, but has gone through a challenging phase over the past year, losing his spot to a younger band of seamers. A left shoulder injury during India’s tour to Sri Lanka last year forced him out of the side, and he hasn’t been able to return since. Part of Kent’s One Day Cup-winning squad this year, Saini was impressive in the County Championship, picking up 11 wickets at 23.81, which paved the way for an India A call-up. However, a groin injury during the Duleep Trophy ruled him out of the A series, and he’s been at the National Cricket Academy, rehabilitating since.
Status: Recovered from fever-related illness
An asterisk next to his name, for Avesh just recently played his first match in months, an ODI.
On the back of a couple of impressive IPL seasons, Avesh found his way into the India squad this year but has had a difficult few months fitness-wise. He was ruled out of the Asia Cup after two matches due to an illness, which also kept him out of the Australia and South Africa T20Is that followed. Reports later suggested a sinusitis issue, but Avesh recovered to feature in the opening match of the ODI series against South Africa. In Avesh’s absence though, Deepak Chahar – himself back after a long injury layoff – jumped the queue and grabbed a spot in the T20I team.
Other recent India quicks who aren’t part of the T20 World Cup squad:
All of them have played since January 2021.
Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Umran Malik, Chetan Sakariya, Sandeep Warrier, Venkatesh Iyer (all-rounder)