Fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah, who has been out of competitive cricket action since September last year due to a back injury, could return to the international cricket arena during the T20I series against Ireland in August.
As per a report in Cricbuzz, Indian team management is targeting the three T20Is against Ireland, set to be held on August 18, 20 and 23, to get Bumrah back in action.
"The ultimate target, of course, is to have him up to speed for the World Cup in October-November through the Asia Cup in September preceding it. However, before utilising him in the 50-over games, the Indian think-tank wants to test the waters in the T20s," it said.
Bumrah has been out of competitive cricket since late September last year, when he pulled out of the home T20Is against South Africa, after playing in two games against Australia. The re-occurrence of back injury resulted in him missing the Men's T20 World Cup in Australia. He had also missed the Asia Cup held last year in the UAE.
The pacer attempted a comeback in January this year for the ODI series against Sri Lanka. But he was withdrawn on the eve of the ODI series opener at Guwahati, with the BCCI citing the need for him to build bowling resilience, and calling the decision as a precautionary measure. He then underwent a back surgery in New Zealand in March and has been on recovery route since then at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru.
"The Ireland series aligns with the plan of the Indian team, the selectors, his handlers at the National Cricket Academy (NCA), and BCCI, who collectively want him to return to match-play slowly and gradually, starting with four-over games," added the report.
It further said word is going around that Bumrah has made a 70 percent recovery, with the think-tank not only hopeful but also optimistic that he will be ready for the games in Dublin.
The report also mentioned that Bumrah is expected to play a few games at the NCA next month, in order to assess how he responds to the workload and how he feels the day after playing a game, depending on which a decision to include him for the Ireland series will be taken.
Meanwhile, wicketkeeper-batter KL Rahul has checked into the NCA and is undergoing rehabilitation post undergoing a right thigh surgery, but his return date is still unknown and is unlikely to be ready for the Asia Cup. With regards to Shreyas Iyer, who also had a lower back surgery in May and is rehabilitating as well at the NCA, the status is still not fully known.
The report also said veteran top-order batter Cheteshwar Pujara was contacted by the Indian team management over his exclusion from the squad for the two-Test series against the West Indies. Pujara will now be playing for West Zone in Duleep Trophy, starting from June 28 in Bengaluru.
"It is not clear whether coach Rahul Dravid, the selectors, or both have spoken to him, but some form of communication has taken place regarding his non-selection. It is understood that Pujara, who has played more than 100 Tests (103), has been informed that new players will be given an opportunity," it said.
"Whether the conversation had any influence on his decision to play in the Duleep Trophy is not clear, but he immediately made himself available for the West Zone side for the multi-day tournament starting in a few days time," it added.