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In guwahati, a comeback to watch out for

GUWAHATI: It’s been a while, but he’s going to be in action soon. After being laid low for nearly four months by a stress fracture, the India pace spearhead bowled flat out at nets on Friday, before their first T20I against Sri Lanka on Sunday. Every aspect that makes Bumrah the white-ball beast that he is was being polished under the watchful eyes of head coach Ravi Shastri.

The 26-year-old hit the straps straightway, bowling with pace on a breezy winter evening. He mixed his deliveries up. Yorkers and a variety of bouncers were sent down at batsmen, with Shardul Thakur and Shivam Dube steaming in in parallel. It looked like Bumrah was in a hurry to dust off the cobwebs he may have collected in his injury-induced absence; single-stump practice was done for re-tuning his bowling radar.

As expected and has been the story ever since Bumrah became the nuclear warhead of India’s bowling arsenal, every delivery of his was being soaked in by the Indian think-tank. The pacer, his coaches and skipper were seen engaged in discussions after each ball; a loop that went on for 45 minutes.

The level of time that is being lavished on Bumrah is understandable. Despite his injury sidelining him last September, he was one of the biggest highlights for India in 2019.

From three Tests in 2019, Bumrah came back with 14 wickets at a stellar average of 13.14. That is inclusive of two five-wicket hauls, both against West Indies (in North Sound and Kingston). Those two bursts made him the only Asian bowler in history to bag five-fors in South Africa, England, Australia and West Indies. At Sabina Park, Bumrah became only the third India bowler (after Harbhajan Singh and Irfan Pathan) to record a hat-trick in the longest format. That apart, Bumrah’s form with the red ball also spilled over to the white one. He had 25 wickets in 14 ODIs during the year.

Rest catch up

The Indian fielding session was mainly about taking high catches. Virat Kohli, Bumrah, KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer took turns under lights to get into the groove.The likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal were not seen during the optional practice session.
There’s forecast of rain for the next two days, but Assam Cricket Association officials are confident of hosting the match.

“It’s a T20 fixture. Even if it rains in the morning, it will dry out by evening. There was rain today morning, but practice was not affected,” said ACA secretary Devajit Saikia.

According to the local curator, there could be some dew towards the evening. The pitch wore a tinge of grass and was closely inspected by Shastri and bowling coach Bharathi Arun.The stadium has hosted two international matches.

The last was an ODI last October, when India hunted down West Indies’ 323 in just 42.1 overs.In the solitary T20I held here on October 10, 2017, India lost to Australia by eight wickets in a low-scoring fixture.