Jasprit Bumrah, India's No. 1 fast bowler, has been ruled out of the Test series against South Africa, which begins in Visakhapatnam on October 2. Bumrah has suffered a "minor stress fracture in his lower back," according to a BCCI press release. The injury came to light "during a routine radiological screening."
Umesh Yadav will replace Bumrah in India's Test squad. The emergence of Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami as India's first-choice fast-bowling combination has reduced Umesh's opportunities of late, limiting him to only five Tests since the start of 2018. In his second-to-last Test, however, he picked up a career-best match haul of 10 for 133 against West Indies in Hyderabad.
Bumrah's injury is a significant blow to India. Since his Test debut in January 2018, he has quickly established himself as one of the world's most dangerous fast bowlers, picking up 62 wickets in 12 Test matches at an average of 19.24. He already has five-wicket hauls in each of the four tours he has been on - South Africa, England, Australia and the West Indies - and the series against South Africa was to be his first at home.
This is the second time Bumrah has had to miss Tests due to injury. A thumb injury, picked up during a T20I against Ireland in Malahide, forced him to miss the first half of India's tour of England last year, including the first two Tests. The stress fracture, though, will worry India a little more since it was not sustained on the field of play.
India have been mindful of Bumrah's workload, resting him from the limited-overs legs of their tours of Australia, New Zealand and the West Indies earlier this year.
Some, though, believe it will help Bumrah's fitness to play as much cricket as possible.
"Bumrah should play as many games as possible, I always endorse that," the former India quick Zaheer Khan told The Indian Express when asked what the best way to preserve Bumrah would be. "More matches you play, more experience you get. That bowling rhythm and fitness is very important. You have to strike that right balance.
"The way Bumrah has evolved in such a short span of time has been remarkable. He is a thinking bowler. You can achieve such success, when you keep improving, keep thinking, keep upgrading."