Despite the injury concerns, former India pacer Zaheer Khan believes that India still have quality fast bowlers at their disposal to trouble the England batsmen in the forthcoming five-match Test series, scheduled to commence on August 1 at Edgbaston, Birmingham.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who averages 26.63 in red-ball cricket on English soil, was left out from the 18-member squad for the first three Tests after he aggravated his back problem by playing in the series-deciding third ODI at Leeds.
Kumar’s injury is a huge blow for India given that Jasprit Bumrah is still to recover from his thumb injury. Although Bumrah has been picked in the Test squad, he will only be considered for selection from the second Test onwards.
With both Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah being ruled out of the first Test, the trio of Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami will have to carry the additional responsibility. Moreover, rookie Shardul Thakur and all-rounder Hardik Pandya are also there in the squad.
“Bumrah is injured for the first few matches and there has been an injury concern to Bhuvneshwar Kumar, which is a concern seeing the forthcoming season, but I believe even after their injuries, the five-match tournament is a long series,” Zaheer quoted as saying by PTI.
“I believe whichever bowlers will play - like Umesh (Yadav) is doing well, Ishant (Sharma) is a senior bowler and has to take more lead (role) and Mohammed Shami has a good record - I believe their (Bhuvi and Bumrah’s) absence will be felt, but still India’s bench strength is very strong,” he added.
Meanwhile, batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar has termed the Indian bowling attack as the most complete one they have had over the years.
Endorsing Tendulkar’s view, Zaheer said: “Yes absolutely. If you see the style, with the style of each bowler, you can say it is an accomplished attack because in different conditions, different bowlers impress more.”
Khan also feels that Virat Kohli and company will have to play consistently well throughout the fiev Tests.
“I feel that it will be an Indian summer, seeing the conditions, and I wish the Indian team will play the five-Test series with the consistency with which they are doing good,” he remarked.
“The five Test match rubber is a long series and I hope that all our bowlers will (remain) fit and the entire squad is fit. Because, in a long series it is necessary they stay together as a team. Your tough and good days will come [alternately]. The more you enjoy the tour and the local flavours, (the more) it will be beneficial,” Zaheer concluded.
India squad for first three Tests against England:
Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, M Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Rishabh Pant, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur.
Aug 01 - Aug 05, 1st Test – Edgbaston, Birmingham
Aug 09 - Aug 13, 2nd Test – Lord's, London
Aug 18 - Aug 22, 3rd Test – Trent Bridge, Nottingham
Aug 30 - Sep 03, 4th Test – The Rose Bowl, Southampton
Sep 07 - Sep 11, 5th Test – Kennington Oval, London