By Khurram Habib
New Delhi, Dec 24 (IANS) India pace bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has been out of action after injuring his thigh muscle during an Indian Premier League (IPL) game on October 2, will remain out of action till the 2021 IPL edition likely to begin in early April. The 30-year-old bowler, who is recuperating at Bangalore’s National Cricket Academy (NCA), will complete his rehab next month.
Overall, he would remain out of action for six months since the date of injury.
“He will be able to play only during the IPL as he is out of competitive cricket for six months,” an official in the know of things told IANS.
Bhuvi has also not been picked in the Uttar Pradesh team for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament next month. While the domestic season is likely to be a curtailed one, India play a full international series against England prior to the IPL.
The national team touring Australia is already struggling with pace bowling options after Mohammed Shami joined the ranks of the injured last week after fracturing his arm on Saturday during the first Test. Ishant Sharma was ruled out of the Test series on November 27. India are now left with only two senior pace bowlers in Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav and will have to depend on youngsters for third seamer’s choice in the absence of Ishant, Shami, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Sports physiotherapist Heath Matthews, who is associated with the Mumbai Indians, said Bhuvneshwar seems to be suffering classic injuries.
“The problem with fast bowling is that it puts a huge toll on the body. He seems to be unlucky in the last couple of years and seems to be getting a lot of classic injuries — back strain, side strain, hamstring strain — that all focus in and around the lower back area, which is very often the problem area for bowlers,” Matthews told IANS.
Asked if change in pace or style of bowling, like Bhuvneshwar has been trying, can have an impact on a fast bowler’s body, Matthews said: “Sometimes a bowler who is trying to get extra pace and extra swing, it takes a couple of seasons to get that right. At times, the body also takes time to adjust to take the new stress, trying to do new things. Unfortunately, it can be overloaded in certain areas. At the elite level you are so close to the maximum that to make changes becomes very difficult for your body and takes a long time to adjust.”
India had felt Bhuvneshwar’s absence a lot in the recent ODI series where the Australians put up record totals in first two of the three games. Both Bumrah and Shami, along with the others, failed to make early breakthroughs as they failed to pitch the ball up and get movement with the ball, something that Bhuvneshwar specialises in.
Bhuvneshwar, who is considered India’s best with the new ball, especially in the white-ball formats, has suffered multiple injuries over the last two years with back and hamstring injuries as well as side strain forcing him to miss many matches for India and even his IPL franchise, SunRisers Hyderabad.
In 2018, Bhuvneshwar suffered back injuries due to which he missed a few IPL games, then he missed a few matches on tour of Ireland and England and had to return midway through the Test series.
Although the Uttar Pradesh bowler was part of the India squad during the last tour of Australia in 2018-19, he was not 100 per cent fit. He did not play Tests, although he represented India in limited overs formats.
Then, during the 50-over World Cup in 2019 in England, Bhuvneshwar suffered a hamstring injury during the match against Pakistan and again missed a few matches. The second half of last year also saw him getting ruled out of many international matches, and finally he had to undergo an operation for sports hernia in London in January. He missed the home series against Sri Lanka and Australia and the tour of New Zealand in early 2020.
Bhuvneshwar returned to competitive cricket after nine months during the IPL, the long gap also caused by Covid-19, but could play just four matches in the tournament.
Bhuvneshwar’s body has been injury-prone and in recent times. The number of injuries seemed to have increased especially after the out-and-out swing bowler tried to increase his pace. He had earlier admitted how an effort to add pace to his bowling had led to problems of controlling the ball etc.
Matthews added that the first year after a change in technique/style for an athlete is usually of frustration because the body is not listening, the second involves piecing it together and the third could be make or break — either something good could come out of it or it could go the other way.
India, Uttar Pradesh and SunRisers Hyderabad would hope it doesn’t go the other way and Bhuvneshwar’s rehab can bring him back.