India were dealt a huge blow ahead of departing for the T20 World Cup as pace ace Jasprit Bumrah was ruled out of the mega-event because of a back injury.
India face a huge dilemma on whom to call up as the replacement for Bumrah, who was exceptional with the new ball as well in the final overs.
There are several candidates to choose from, but Head Coach Rahul Dravid said the team management will wait until the final deadline day of October 15 to name the replacement player.
Before departing for Australia on Wednesday, October 5, Captain Rohit Sharma hinted that the ideal replacement for Bumrah would be someone who has the experience of bowling in Australian conditions.
Mohammad Shami, who shone with the ball for title winners Gujarat Titans in IPL 2022, seems to be the popular choice, but the selectors also have other capable choices in Mohammed Siraj, who did well with the ball in the second ODI against South Africa on Sunday, along with Deepak Chahar and Umesh Yadav.
Jammu and Kashmir's speedster Umran Malik, who mesmerised everyone with his pace in IPL 2022, could be in with a slim outside chance, given that he will be in Australia bowling to the Indian batters in the nets.
Ideally, India will want a pace bowler who has the ability to keep things tight in the death overs -- an area where they have have struggled recently in T20 cricket.
A look at the possible candidates to replace Bumrah at the T20 World Cup:
Shami was one of the top performers for debutant Gujarat Titans in IPL 2022, with 20 wickets in 16 matches.
He also has the experience of playing in Australian conditions having featured in eight Tests Down Under picking up 31 wickets, while taking 22 wickets in 14 ODIs at an economy rate of 5.19.
He played just one T20 International in Australia, in December 2020, when he was taken apart by the hosts for expensive figures of 46 runs in four overs.
Shami, who has been left out of India's T20 team since their early departure from the T20 World Cup last year, has taken 18 wickets in 17 T20Is, but his economy rate of 9.54 is a cause of concern.
Overall, he has played 133 T20 games, taking 156 wickets at an economy rate of 8.28.
He is woefully short of match practice, having recently missed the T20I series against South Africa due to COVID-19.
Originally, Shami was picked among the reserves for the T20 World Cup and he could be the best bet to replace someone like Bumrah with his ability to swing the new ball and also bowl good yorkers at the end.
Chahar was out of action for nearly six months after injuring his hamstring against the West Indies in February, which also saw him miss IPL 2022.
He made a good comeback in Zimbabwe, taking five wickets in two ODIs, and recently featured in the T20I series against South Africa, where he took three wickets in three games at an economy rate of 8.
Chahar is also more than a capable batter down the order as he proved with half-centuries in Sri Lanka (69 from 82 balls) last year and against South Africa (54 from 34 balls) in January.
Quite effective in the early overs with his ability to swing the new ball, doubts remain over his effectiveness with the ball in the death overs.
He has only played 3 T20Is in Australia, taking one wicket at an economy rate of 9.25.
Chahar has taken 29 wickets in 24 T20Is at an economy rate of just above eight, while overall he has picked up 137 wickets in 122 games, at an impressive economy rate of 7.66.
Although an injury ruled him out of the three-match ODI series against South Africa, he is likely to recover in time for the T20 World Cup.
Siraj, who was called up as Bumrah's replacement for the South Africa T20I series, could also take his place at the T20 World Cup.
He enjoyed bowling in Australian conditions during India's Test series in 2020-2021, taking 13 wickets in three games, but has only played one white ball match Down Under -- an ODI in January 2019 in which he was hit for 76 runs in 10 overs.
Siraj struggled with control for RCB in IPL 2022, going for more than 10 per over for nine wickets in 15 games.
Overall, in his IPL career, he has taken 59 wickets in 65 games at an economy rate of 8.78.
In the lone T20I he played against South Africa, he was slammed for 44 runs in his four overs.
Siraj's figures in T20 cricket is not that great. In six T20Is he has played for India, he has picked up five wickets, but has gone for 10.54 runs, giving away 253 runs in 144 balls bowled.
Overall, in T20 cricket he has claimed 117 wickets in 103 games at an economy rate of 8.3.
However, he excelled with the ball in the second ODI against South Africa on Sunday, with superb figures of 3/38 in his 10 overs. He was particularly impressive in the death overs, picking up 1/12 from his last four overs to stake his place for the T20 World Cup.
Umesh was a surprise choice to replace Shami during the T20I series against Australia last month as he has not been part of India's plans in T20 cricket for the past few years.
Umesh, who last featured in T20 Internationals for India in 2019, didn't have a great comeback as he took 2/27 in two overs against Australia and claimed 1/34 in three overs against South Africa.
The veteran pacer excelled for KKR in IPL 2022, with 16 wickets in 12 games at an economy rate of 7.06. He has lot of experience of T20 cricket, having featured in 12 seasons of IPL for 135 wickets in 133 games at an economy rate of 8.32.
Umesh has traditionally struggled with control in white ball cricket, giving runs at 6.01 in 75 ODIs and 9.33 in nine T20I games.
Overall, in T20 cricket, he has taken 169 wickets in 165 games at an economy rate of 8.20.
Will India gamble with the young tearaway?
Umran made everyone sit up and notice as he took 22 wickets in 14 games in IPL 2022, leaving everyone spellbound with his ability to bowl really quick and also the deadly yorkers at the end.
He was fast-tracked into the Indian team for the tour of Ireland and England in June-July, where he played three T20Is, but went for plenty of runs.
Overall, he has picked up 37 wickets in 26 T20 games, but his economy is on the higher side at 9.13.
His extra pace could prove more than a handful on the hard bouncy pitches in Australia.
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