Jasprit Bumrah has been released from India's squad for the fourth and final Test against England in Ahmedabad, starting March 4, because of "personal reasons", with the BCCI saying that there will be no replacements sent across. This now pegs the squad strength at 17. Bumrah had earlier been left out of the squad for the series of five T20Is and three ODIs that will follow the Tests.
ESPNcricinfo understands that Bumrah has been allowed to rest as part of the team's plan for managing the players as well as their workloads. This is keeping in mind (a) life in the bio-secure bubbles during the Covid-19 pandemic, and (b) the packed schedule for the rest of the year, starting with the white-ball segment of the England series, the IPL, a possible World Test Championship final in June, followed by five Tests in England from July, and then the T20 World Cup in October-November.
Coping with life in a bubble was one of the key challenges highlighted by the Indian team management during the recent tour of Australia, where players were forced to stay inside team hotels because of strict regulations imposed on them by the various state governments.
Bumrah played in front of his home crowd at Motera for the first time in the recently-concluded third Test that finished on Thursday. India wrapped up the game inside two days to take a 2-1 lead in the series, which strengthened their chances of making the WTC final against New Zealand at Lord's.
This series marked Bumrah's first appearance in a Test on home soil when he featured in the series opener in Chennai, where he picked up four wickets in India's 227-run loss. He was then rested for the second Chennai Test. Earlier this week, he didn't have much of a role in the third game too, bowling just six wicketless overs in England's first innings in a ten-wicket Indian win scripted by their spinners.
After the game, India captain Virat Kohli jokingly told Murali Kartik on the official broadcast: "Bumrah said that 'I am getting workload management while playing the game', and Ishi [Ishant Sharma] said 'it's my 100th game and I'm not getting to bowl'. I said, 'you have to blame this guy [Axar Patel, the Player of the Match with 11 wickets] who is just coming in and bowling in areas that is making life so much more difficult for the batters', and, yeah, the spinners were outstanding in this game and there was just no room for anyone else to do anything; the game was so fast and it all happened so quickly, that it was just not possible to bring anyone into the game."
Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Siraj are the other two pacers India can call upon in Bumrah's absence. Yadav was added to the squad ahead of the third Test after recovering from a calf injury he sustained on the tour of Australia.
If the team management chooses to play an extra spinner or an allrounder, then Kuldeep Yadav or Hardik Pandya could come into the fray.
India's squad for the fourth Test: Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-capt), KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wk), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav