Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya more valuable to India than Mumbai Indians: Mahela Jayawardene

MUMBAI: Indian cricket stakeholders must have heaved a sigh of relief after learning that Jasprit Bumrah bowled for an hour without any discomfort at the Indian team nets ahead of the second ODI at Vizag recently.

It means the ace pace bowler – missed by the Indian team because he’s taken a break to heal his injured lower back – – could be back in action, as early as the three-match home T20 international series against Sri Lanka. The fast bowler with a peculiar action hurt his back during India’s tour of the West Indies last August.

Bumrah’s recovery and rehabilitation is being closely monitored by his IPL team Mumbai Indians. The Gujarat speedster has played a key role in MI’s four title wins. On Friday, MI coach and Lankan legend Mahela Jayawardene expressed happiness with the progress made by Bumrah and all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who too has been out of action due to a lower back injury.

“It’s good. He has stated training. He was in Vizag bowling to the Indian team at the nets. The MI staff is closely monitoring his progress. Hardik (Pandya) is making good progress too. I’m quite happy. Hopefully, they will play against Sri Lanka, or may be Australia. I am not sure how quickly they will come through. It depends on the medical staff, but as long as they are playing in January or February, it’s fine. Injuries happen and it is about how they recover best and these two are more valuable for India than for Mumbai Indians. It is important we manage all that. (I’m) quite happy and everything is going right for us,” Jayawardene said, at a ‘ProAm Golf Championship,’ in which former India players Ajit Agarkar and Nikhil Chopra also took part.

Like in the case of India, even the MI bowling attack has also completely revolved around Bumrah, who’s taken 82 wickets in 77 matches@26.59, in recent years.

“I mean, that is always going to happen, but we don’t put a lot of pressure on Jasprit, saying that he has to be (always there). We have created a very good bowling unit around him. He doesn’t take too much pressure and delivers. You have to realize he is still young, so there is lot more to come from him. He is brilliant. He is learning. Every day, he is evolving, which is great. We want to create a complete unit, so we put a lot of emphasis on our bowling. Over the last few years, our bowling unit has performed really well under pressure. We won some close matches. In both finals (in 2017 & 2019), we defended low scores. We are trying to create that culture and Jasprit is part of that,” complimented the former Lanka captain.

Soon after MI bought Australian opener Chris Lynn at the player auction in Kolkata for Rs2 crore, the Australian and Bumrah had a banter on twitter.

While Jayawardene was pleased with his new buy, he wasn’t ready to anoint the aggressive batsman as the team’s new opener, as he has faith in the opening combo of skipper Rohit Sharma and South African ‘keeper-bat Quinton de Kock.

“I didn’t say he was an opener! We will see. It is always good to have options. We asked a lot of players to be flexible as in T20 cricket, there are no fixed roles. We have a great combination in Quinton and Rohit,” he said.

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