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In another jolt for India, Chahar sustains back and hip injuries


With just a fortnight for their opening game against Pakistan in the T20 World Cup, India suffered another injury blow as medium pacer Deepak Chahar, one of the standby players and in contention to replace Jasprit Bumrah, sustained injuries to back and hip before the ODI match against South Africa in Lucknow on Thursday.

He was promptly flown to the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore, where the Indian cricket board’s medical team will assess the extent of his injury, whether it is serious or not, and whether he could join the team or not in Australia later. “We will  soon get an update on Chahar. He had back pain on eve of the game and was not comfortable at all. The team management decided to send him to NCA where further scans will be conducted. Primarily, it looks like a back and hip injury,” a source in the BCCI informed The Indian Express.

The back injury would be especially monitored as he had injured the area during this year’s IPL and missed four months of cricket, unfortunately at a time when his stocks were climbing. The late injury meant that he did not travel with the India team to Perth, where they would play two warm-up games against New Zealand (Oct 17) and Australia (Oct 18).

Having already lost Bumrah and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, two valuable assets, to injuries, they could ill-afford losing another fast bowler to an injury. And the injuries have coincided at the worst possible time for Chahar, as Bumrah’s replacement was to be named in two days, October 9 being the cut-off date to confirm the squad.

Though Shami was the front-runner in the race, a more like-for-like replacement for Bumah and more experienced, Chahal too stood a chance. Unlike Shami, Chahar has been a regular in the T20 series against the Proteas as well as Australia before them. Shami, on the other hand, last played an international game on July 22 this year, an ODI game against England. His last T20 international was against Namibia in last year’s World Cup. He too is at the NCA, where his post-COVID fitness is being assessed. Moreover, Chahal brings more utility with the bat, as both his international outings this year yielded 30-plus scores.

Game time, swing factor

Since his comeback from injury in the series against Zimbabwe, he had racked up game time and had prospered in favourable bowling conditions, like in Thiruvananthapuram. On a juicy pitch, he swung the ball both ways with splendid control, highlighted by a vicious in-swinger that bowled Temba Bavuma. Even when the conditions do not ally his style of bowling, he could purchase sideways movement with the new ball and hence always force in the power-play. He has been a much improved bowler at the death too, after he has added an off-cutter and slow bouncer to his tools-kit.

Some consider him a better bowler than Bhuvneshwar Kumar as well. “Deepak Chahar is the only bowler who can get the ball to swing up-front and both ways and looks like getting 2-3 wickets in Powerplay,” Harbhajan had recently told PTI.

“His inswinger is as lethal as his outswing and he can even get to move in non-conducive conditions. At this stage, where we stand today, Deepak is a better-skilled bowler in the present scenario compared to Bhuvneshwar,” he added.

Even if Shami gets the World Cup nod, India cannot afford to lose Chahar. For, if another medium-pacer too gets injured, the team would be relying on a bunch of rookies like Umran Malik, who the selection committee had summoned to join the squad as a net bowler, along with Saurashtra’s pacer Chetan Sakariya and Maharashtra’s Mukesh Chaudhary. That is a collective experience of six international games if required to step up into the playing eleven, in the eventuality of a last-minute injury.





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