Border-Gavaskar Trophy: bruised India rocked by injury crisis

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As desperate as it sounds, the Indian Cricket team dressing room feels more like a hospital ward as Jasprit Bumrah was the latest casualty to the long list of injured players during the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy. After losing Mohammed Shami in the Adelaide Test and Umesh Yadav in Melbourne against Australia, the Indian team suffered three new fresh injury blows in Sydney with Ravichandran Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari in serious danger of missing the final Test at Brisbane, which starts in three days’ time.

The injury-riddled tour saw another major setback for the visitors with pace spearhead Bumrah ruled out of the fourth Test citing an abdominal strain.

Its revealed Bumrah suffered the injury during the drawn third Test with scans revealing a strain and the Indian team management does not want him to aggravate the injury, keeping in mind the upcoming four-Test series against England.

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That means as India travel to Brisbane for the series decider, experience in the bowling department will be at an all-time low with Mohammed Siraj (2 Tests), Navdeep Saini (1 Test) and Shardul Thakur (1 Test) at the very start of their careers, while Natarajan is yet to make a Test bow.

Days before the final Test of the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Bumrah’s injury will feel like a dampener to what has been a resolute and defiant display by the Indians to earn a draw at the SCG.

Moreover, after injuries to Ishant Sharma (pre-tour), Mohammed Shami (first Test) and Umesh Yadav (second Test), Bumrah was the senior-most fit fast bowler available on tour. It is also a fair pointer that India’s bowling prowess overseas – especially in the last couple of years – has been built on Bumrah’s able shoulders.

Crocked: Ravindra Jadeja dislocated and fractured his left thumb in Sydney.

Border-Gavaskar Trophy: Bowlers on the receiving end

While Bumrah has had the most workload among fast bowlers among both sides, bowling 117.4 overs across the six innings so far-he has scalped 11 crucial wickets.

To make matters even more tricky for India, Ravichandran Ashwin, who played a vital role alongside Vihari in keeping Australia at bay in the third Test, is also facing back issues and was unable to stand up straight or bend down to ‘tie his shoelaces’, his wife Prithi had revealed in a Tweet.

And even the hosts couldn’t come into it facing a tougher prospect in terms of their calendar. In the opening three Tests, they have gone with an unchanged bowling quartet of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon are likely to feel the brunt at any given stage in Brisbane.

Not since December 2012 have they had such a tight three-day turnaround after bowling more than 130 overs in fourth innings. Working in Australia’s favour at least is that spinner Nathan Lyon got through so much work, sending down 46 overs. Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins both bowled 26 each, while Mitchell Starc, who played in that Perth match in 2012-13, bowled 22.

Border-Gavaskar Trophy: The lockdown effect?

2020 has been the year like no other and like many others, cricketers too were at the receiving end, both mentally and physically. To serve an extended period in bio-bubbles became a new normal and life revolved around locked hotel floors and practice sessions in isolation for many international cricketers.

Given how tough the isolation experience can be, it is little wonder that players have found it tough. For instance, a lot of Indian players playing in Australia-have been in some sort of isolation since July 2020 and have been starved of normal life.

As per a scientific medical study, players are likely to have high anxiety levels when serving a quarantine period or a bi0-bubble. This has a direct relation to more and more players getting injured given the indifferent mental conditioning. The high expectations from players to perform to previous levels under the new conditions is an unrealistic demand, which seems to be getting better off the players psychologically.

The Indian team has been ravaged by injuries and as many as 12 players, who could be part of the playing XI are nursing different injuries at the given moment. Each passing Test, the team has stood the challenge thrown at them by the Australians. It is about time the Indians tackle the Trojan Horse!

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