Kohli’s problematic back gave him lot of trouble over the past few seasons as he raised his fitness regimen to new levels. At one point, there were reports of an impending surgery that could have forced him out for a long time.
But Kohli concentrated on rehab, recovery and proper rest to make sure the rickety back could be managed on the most significant stretch of his captaincy – away tours of South Africa, England and Australia leading up to the 2019 World Cup.
Test series in South Africa and England were lost while the Border-Gavaskar Trophy was won Down Under, as India showed they were dynamic enough to be considered the No1 Test team in the world even though the results didn’t always go their way. Kohli the batsman, meanwhile, proved himself to be the undisputed No1 batsman in the world.
What aided Kohli’s mission on tough away tours was the rise of Jasprit Bumrah as the out-and-out pacer the Indian cricket never had. Yes, India did have a few quicks who blew hot and cold over the years alongside consistent seamers like Zaheer Khan and Javagal Srinath. But they never had a bowler who could strike fear into the hearts of opposition batsmen, even on flat wickets.
The Indians were themselves surprised when Bumrah made their batsmen hop around in nets during the tour of South Africa in early 2018. They just had to unleash him on South Africa surfaces.
Since his debut in South Africa, the 25-year-old quick has raced to 49 wickets in 10 Tests and emerged as almost as critical a member of the Indian unit as Kohli.
As much as I admire Kohli, Bumrah has been India’s most important player of 2018 across formats— Rehan Ulhaq (@Rehan_ulhaq) January 6, 2019
Bumrah bowls well with the new and old ball alike and maintains his lines and pace in subsequent spells. He has all the variations in the book which, when coupled with his unusual action, make him a scary proposition. And he changes his bowling at an instant from red-ball to white-ball cricket.
Bumrah’s value to the team can be gauged by the fact he has been rested from the entire limited overs leg of India’s tour of the antipodes; Bumrah won’t play the upcoming three ODIs in Australia or the subsequent ODI and T20 series in New Zealand.
He will be kept fresh for the ODIs in India against the Baggy Green leading up to the World Cup. His fitness is imperative for the Indian team as the other two regular seamers in ODIs – Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya – have broken their back and are yet to regain match-fitness or confidence of the team management.
Left-arm seamer Khaleel Ahmed – who made his debut last year – seems the only regular seamer in the ODI team who can be relied upon apart from Bumrah. Apart from them, only spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal offer certainty in white-ball cricket. Which makes Bumrah’s well-being the top priority for India, especially since his action puts extreme pressure on his joints and back and creates a constant fear of injury.
The Men in Blue won the 50-over Asia Cup in the UAE without Kohli as Rohit Sharma led the team with great acumen. The Indians have enough firepower in their ODI batting and can even rely on Rishabh Pant who seems made for the white-ball format. But without Bumrah, it will all fall apart.
Rishabh Pant reached the joint-highest ranking by an India wicket-keeper in the latest ICC Test table after his fine century in the fourth and final Test against Australia in Sydney.
Pant enjoyed a great Test tour of Australia, scoring 350 runs and taking 20 catches across four Tests. The 21-year-old southpaw jumped 21 spots to reach 17th place, the joint-highest by a specialist India wicketkeeper along with Farokh Engineer. Pant’s aggregate of 673 rating points are also the the highest by an India wicketkeeper, with Dhoni having the next best of 662 points. Dhoni’s highest Test ranking was 19th.
Meanwhile, Cheteshwar Pujara – who scored 521 runs in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and was adjudged man of the series – moved up the table in Test ranking for batsmen.
Pujara moved from fourth to third position in the ICC table to be placed behind table-topper Virat Kohli and Kiwis maestro Kane Williamson.
India fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah has been rested for the upcoming one-day series in Australia and tour of New Zealand after giving it his all during the Test series in Australia.
Bumrah took 21 wickets in four Tests as India won the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2-1, becoming the first team from the country and Asia to win Down Under.
Virat Kohli‘s team now prepare for a three-match ODI series starting Saturday in Sydney before travelling to New Zealand for a limited-overs tour.
“Keeping in mind the workload of the bowler, it was best felt to give him adequate rest ahead of the home series against Australia,” the BCCI said in statement.
Fast bowler Mohammed Siraj replaces Bumrah in the squad for Australia and the five ODIs in New Zealand starting January 23. Paceman Siddarth Kaul will play in place of Bumrah in three Twenty20s in New Zealand. India then host Australia for five ODI matches starting February 24 back home, followed by two T20 games.
Squad for ODIs: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Lokesh Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, K Khaleel Ahmed, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj
Squad for NZ T20Is: Virat Kohli(c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, K Khaleel Ahmed, Siddarth Kaul