“I was bowling normally,” Bumrah said of his first net session with the Indian team in a year. “It’s not like I’m holding back. I’m enjoying it. I’ve done a lot of net sessions. When my rehab finished and I went home [to Ahmedabad], I practised with Gujarat [his state team] as well.
“I’ve had a lot of sessions and practice matches. It’s not like there are any restrictions or I’m holding back. Obviously, when you come with the Indian team – and the weather here [in Dublin] is great – you enjoy bowling that much more. I’m not holding back. The body feels good and I’m looking forward to the games coming up.”
Over the past month or so, Bumrah has slowly worked his way up at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru in terms of bowling workloads. This has included exhaustive match simulations and a number of practice games to test his match readiness. Bumrah shrugged off any concerns when asked if the bowling demands of a 50-over game, which he could soon face at the Asia Cup and World Cup, would be so much more taxing for someone just returning compared to what was required in this T20I series.
“We were mindful that there’s not a lot of Test cricket in this cycle till the World Cup ends [in November], so even in my rehab, we were never preparing for a T20 game, I was preparing to bowl 10-overs for the World Cup,” Bumrah said. “I have been bowling 10, 12, even 15 overs. I’ve bowled more overs, so it becomes easier when you bowl lesser than what is required.”
How does Bumrah view the expectations on his shoulders to lead India’s attack at the World Cup? Could such thoughts get overwhelming, especially to someone coming back from injury?
“Whoever’s opinion [that Bumrah is India’s bowling trump card] it is, obviously I respect it but whether it’s good or bad, I don’t take it seriously,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t want to carry any baggage or pressure of expectation. I also haven’t set unrealistic expectations for myself; I’m not thinking that I’ve to carry so much load.
“I just want to enjoy. I’ve never stayed away from the game for this long. I’m not thinking ‘I’ll do this, I’ll do that’ or ‘I have to contribute a lot’. I have come here to enjoy it because I like cricket”
Jasprit Bumrah on his comeback
“I’m coming back after a long time; I just want to enjoy. I’ve never stayed away from the game for this long. I’m not thinking ‘I’ll do this, I’ll do that’ or ‘I have to contribute a lot’. I have come here to enjoy it because I like cricket. Expectations, I’m not keeping too much of it. I’m coming to enjoy the game.
“As for the expectations others have of me, that’s not my problem [laughs]. My work is to prepare and put my best foot forward. Everything else will take care of itself.”
Did he ever doubt himself during the time away? Bumrah did admit to feeling a sense of frustration but said he looked to channel it the right way. “Sometimes when your injury takes longer than usual to heal, it can get frustrating. But instead of having self-doubt as to whether I won’t become alright, my thought process was how I can be fine and how quickly I can come back. You need to give the body as much time as it needs.
“I never thought of it like those were dark days or I wouldn’t be able to come back. I was never looking too far ahead. I was only looking at finding a solution to the issue at hand. Once I found the solution, it felt good that I’d be able to work my way up.
“For the first time in summer in 10-11 years I was at home. So I looked at it as an off-season. I got a lot of time to spend with my family, so I was looking at the positives. Yes, it was disappointing I as away [from cricket for so long], but that’s okay, that’s something you can’t control, so you can’t be frustrated about it. I spent time with my family. I’m happy with that and once I started training I was enjoying that.”
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo