190901 Jasprit Bumrah
Jasprit Bumrah Image Credit: AP

It was a real shame that the first international match of the year in India had to be abandoned without a ball being bowled.

Had the T20I against Sri Lanka in Guwahati been called off because of incessant rain, then at least there would have been some consolation because no one can defy the diktat of Mother Nature.

But since this was a man-made disaster, the no-result was a bitter pill to swallow for the huge crowd that had turned up.

In this day and age, where there is so much emphasis on quality infrastructure, and adequate financial assistance to ensure proper covers are in place, it is unthinkable that a match doesn’t take place because of damp spots on the pitch and I hope lessons from this fiasco are taken on-board and learnt by other bodies so that there is no repeat going forward.

With every T20 international over the next few months, a preparatory, exploratory exercise ahead of the World Cup in Australia, aspirants such as Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur will view the washout as a lost opportunity.

The same goes for Shikhar Dhawan, who is on the comeback the trail from injury and is involved in a tough fight with the increasingly consistent K.L. Rahul to partner Rohit Sharma at the top of the order.

Another man who will have to wait at least one more day before returning to top-flight action is Jasprit Bumrah.

Clearly Virat Kohli’s go-to man across formats in the last two years since his Test debut in January 2018, Bumrah hasn’t played a competitive game since the tour of the West Indies in August last year where he sustained a stress fracture. Contrary to recent the convention which necessitates players coming off injuries to play domestic cricket to prove match-readiness, Bumrah’s comeback has been fast-tracked by the selection panel and the team management, perhaps because he will only be required to bowl four overs per game.

It’s a given that, as he has done in the past, Bumrah will bowl the tough overs — in the Power Play, at the death, and maybe even in the middle if the skipper is looking for a breakthrough. He will be crucial to India’s fortunes as the year unfolds and I am sure the enforced break has helped him recharge his batteries.

This is now effectively a two-match series. India will look to start the year with another success at home, but Lasith Malinga’s men will not just roll over.