Former Australia all-rounder Shane Watson has given his opinion on Jasprit Bumrah's replacement should the fast bowler be officially ruled out of contention for India's T20 World Cup squad. Watson believes Mohammed Siraj is the best candidate to replace Bumrah.
Bumrah has reportedly sustained a stress reaction that has likely resurfaced after playing the last two T20Is against Australia. The 28-year-old has been ruled out of the ongoing T20I series against South Africa and risks missing the showpiece event in Australia.
In the latest episode of the ICC Review, Watson said Siraj has the firepower to succeed in Australia and can use the pace and bounce to good effect. The Queenslander also backed the speedster to be effective with the new ball.
"The player I would put in if Jasprit’s not available is Mohammad Siraj, because of the firepower he presents. 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. So, for me he’s probably going to be the one who is going to have the most impact."
While India have able replacements in Mohammad Shami and Deepak Chahar in the reserves, Siraj also stands a chance of making it to the squad. The 28-year-old notably replaced Bumrah for the T20I series against South Africa.
"There’s no replacement in the world for Jasprit" - Shane Watson
The 41-year-old hopes Bumrah is okay to play in the competition, saying his absence would dent India's chances of lifting the trophy as there is no genuine replacement for him. Watson added:
"Honestly, I think it’s going to have a huge impact on India’s chances of winning the T20 World Cup. So if Jasprit’s not available to play in this T20 World Cup, then India’s chances drop quite a bit. 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. There’s no replacement in the world for Jasprit."
Contrary to reports, head coach Rahul Dravid and BCCI president Sourav Ganguly haven't ruled out Bumrah's participation in the tournament. Dravid stated that until there is official confirmation, the pacer will remain in the mix.