‘We aren’t much bothered’, says Hardik Pandya on the absence of Jasprit Bumrah in Indian pace attack

Jasprit Bumrah hasn’t played a game for India since September 2022. A recurring back injury that first took him out of action after the India tour of England last year, ruled him out of the T20 World Cup in Australia and has put a big question over his fitness ahead of the ODI World Cup later this year.

Stand in captain for the first ODI against Australia on Friday, Hardik Pandya however, believes it doesn’t affect India’s strength in the pace bowling department.

“Jassi hasn’t been around for a quite some now,” he said in the pre-match press conference on Thursday. “The bowling group, we have been doing a decent job. They’re all experienced now….the number of games they have played. Having Jassi makes a massive difference but to be very honest, we aren’t much bothered because the guys who have taken role of Jassi, I am quite confident they’ll be doing very well. It gives us good confidence.”

Bumrah isn’t the only injury the Indian think tank has to deal with at the moment. Shreyas Iyer has also been ruled out of the upcoming series due to recurrence of lower-back injury and is set to miss the upcoming IPL season as well.

“I have been in that situation where back could be a problem….we’ll miss him but we have to find solutions if he isn’t around,” Pandya said. “If he is, he is of course welcome. There’s a lot of time to think about how we can go forward.”

With injuries piling and the cricket calendar staying congested with games, comes the question of workload management. On it, Pandya said, “That is not my call. We have to have amount of faith in our S&Cs (Strength and Conditioning). I am a guy who trusts his team. These calls of workload, who should play when, who should not play that is completely On guy who are professionals and it is their call. All these guys are confident if they miss out some matches, then they miss out. It’s okay. That’s the confidence we have. If someone misses out because of workload management, this management has shown confidence and trust in the players. I think that’s the reason players who have gone out have comeback with a lot of security.”

Kishan and Gill to open

With captain Rohit Sharma missing out the first match in Mumbai, India will have to switch to an alternative partner for Shubman Gill on top of the batting order.

“Ishan (Kishan) and Shubman (Gill) will be opening,” confirmed Pandya. Kishan has been India’s third choice opener in the white ball format of late and with KL Rahul looked at as a middle order batter in the ODIs, the southpaw looks like the obvious choice.

On the playing conditions at the Wankhede Stadium, Pandya added, “The wicket looks how it is throughout the year. I have played here almost seven years and it is one of the finest grounds i have played. It’s going to be challenging since this wicket will give equal opportunities to both sides.”

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