Former India pacer Zaheer Khan on Thursday said he was "puzzled" over the fact that a string of fast bowlers are spending time away from the field nursing repetitive injuries, adding that something is going wrong somewhere for them to suffer such "big injuries".
Apart from Jasprit Bumrah, who has been out of action for several months, right-arm pacers Deepak Chahar and Prasidh Krishna have also missed cricket for a long period.
Chahar did make a comeback in the ongoing IPL, but missed a few games in between for Chennai Super Kings due to a hamstring injury while Prasidh has had back-related troubles resulting in a stress fracture.
"I am equally puzzled as you on this. You have mentioned the bowlers but there also are some batters who are having some serious injuries. That is something which is beyond my understanding and it has to do with the combination for sure," Zaheer told the media during an interaction organised by Jio Cinema.
"Some things need to be looked at carefully in terms of how they are approaching the whole season, their training and their rest-to-recovery ratios and a whole lot of other things.
"It is very difficult to pin-point at just one word (to describe) exactly what is going on but I would say, yes, there is something going wrong somewhere for all these guys to get such big injuries," he added.
But Zaheer was pleased with the way the other two key Indian pacers — Mohammad Shami and Mohammed Siraj — have operated in this IPL.
"It has been a treat to watch them operate. They have kept things simple, something which is required. I would say it is the right way of approaching the powerplay and it is great to see bowlers (like them) are setting that kind of example, simplifying things and not getting caught up in the format," Zaheer said.
‘Heavy IPL shouldn’t affect Shami, Siraj’
Zaheer said a heavy IPL for both Shami and Siraj should not affect their workload much, citing the amount of bowling required in Test cricket as India players also have an eye on their World Test Championship final versus Australia from June 7.
"As a bowler, the more you bowl the better it is for you — that is the way I have always looked at it. When you are looking at the workload, I have always believed, talking about IPL as a tournament and T20 as a format, your high-intensity overs are like 64 or 70 — that is the kind of overs you are looking at," Zaheer explained.
‘It’s about getting yourself ready’
"It is not a very high workload (scenario). Knowing the match overs, you can always manage yourself but when you are looking at Test match finals, you are talking about upping this workload. In a Test match, you will be bowling 18-20 overs in a day, which is going to be at high intensity," he added.
"From the workload management point of view, for a bowler it is about getting yourself ready to spend a day on the field for 90 overs and coming back again the next day and doing it, if required. That is the kind of preparation, in terms of workload it should be upped right now rather than decreased," said the 2011 World Cup winner.
‘Umran hasn’t been handled well’
The former speedster expressed dissatisfaction with the way Sunrisers Hyderabad handled and used Umran Malik this IPL, whose express pace has impressed one and all.
"I think Umran Malik has not been handled well by the franchise with the way his services should have been utilised by SRH and that has been evident," Zaheer said.
He added, "When you are talking about a young seamer, you are also looking at creating that environment and support. That (kind of) guidance is required. Unfortunately that was not seen from SRH and that is why he has had the season the way he had."
‘It’s been a tough season’
Zaheer, who is also the global head for cricket development at Mumbai Indians, said the franchise has done well despite missing strike bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Jofra Archer.
"When you talk about Mumbai Indians and when you look at how the season has gone, it has not been an easy season (because of) first losing (Jasprit) Bumrah and then Jofra Archer. It has been, bowling wise, a tough season but batting has been very good — that is the way I see it," he said.
"On the whole, the season has been very good and the momentum, I would say, is there with them. You can talk about the result in the last match but (even) in that (game) the way they batted on that surface, it was good," Zaheer said.
Zaheer admitted MI have missed Bumrah but added that Piyush Chawla (20 wickets in 13 matches) has done incredibly well with his experience.
"There is no doubt about that — Bumrah is a match-winner. I have been very vocal about the fact that there is inexperience in Mumbai Indians' bowling line-up.
‘Chawla has done exceptionally well’
"Piysh Chawla has done exceptionally well and carried the responsibility of a senior bowler in the camp, but that weakness in their bowling was always there and Bumrah was the main reason for that and then Jofra also joined that list. If Bumrah was around, things would have been different." he said.
"You have seen over the years in the IPL, the value which experience brings, someone who has been there, done that, someone who can handle pressure well.
"In the spin department, there are a lot of young spinners around. Chawla was a straight-forward call because he can mentor those guys with his experience," he added.