Dubai: Former Australia cricketer Shane Watson is adamant that Mohammad Siraj is the best option for India to include if star pacer Jasprit Bumrah is ruled out of the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup through injury.
Bumrah is battling an ongoing back concern that caused him to miss the recent Asia Cup and has already been ruled out of the current three-match T20I series at home against South Africa.
While India is still hoping Bumrah can prove his fitness and feature at the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia, it remains unclear whether the right-armer will remain in India’s squad for the event.
Experienced seamers Mohammad Shami and Deepak Chahar are among the players already on India’s standby list for the T20 World Cup, while Siraj is also in the mix to feature given he received a call-up to replace Bumrah for the remainder of the South Africa T20 series.
“The player I would put in if Jasprit’s not available is Mohammad Siraj, because of the firepower he presents,” Watson said in The ICC Review show.
“Without Bumrah, that’s the one thing India won’t necessarily have, which is vital on Australian wickets on the bigger grounds with the pace and bounce.
“Siraj is great with the brand new ball. He is fast, he swings the ball away but also his defensive skills are pretty good. And he’s got better over the last couple of years, with what we’ve seen in the IPL.
“So, for me he’s probably going to be the one who is going to have the most impact.”
Watson thinks India’s chances of claiming a second T20 World Cup title will be severely hampered should Bumrah not make the trip to Australia.
Bumrah claimed more wickets than any other India pacer at last year’s T20 World Cup and it’s the 28-year-old’s versatility to bowl superbly with the new ball and at the death that Watson thinks India will miss most.
“Honestly, I think it’s going to have a huge impact on India’s chances of winning the T20 World Cup,” Watson noted.
“He is one of the best bowlers in the world and India in particular, with their fast bowlers, he is the main guy who can take wickets with the brand-new ball but also is an incredible defensive bowler at the back end of the game.
“So, if Jasprit’s not available to play in this T20 World Cup, then India’s chances drop quite a bit,” he said.
“India have got incredible firepower with the bat, all the way down as we’ve seen for a long time, but bowlers, the fast bowlers in particular, there’s always a bit of a question, and Bumrah’s one of the best in the world.
“So, everyone’s got their fingers crossed that he will be OK because, for me, there’s no genuine replacement.
“There’s no replacement in the world for Jasprit. In terms of the quality of bowler, he is alone in Indian cricket. So it’s going to be a bit more of a battle,” Watson added.