India cricketer Zaheer Khan on Sunday said despite injury concerns to Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, India's bench strength in pace bowling is very strong for the upcoming five-match Test series against England, beginning on August 1 in Edgbaston. The Indian selectors named Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Shardul Thakur and Bumrah in the squad for the first three Tests. However, Bumrah, who was unfit for the ODI series, will be available for selection from the second Test.
"I believe whichever bowlers will play - like Umesh (Yadav) is doing well, Ishant (Sharma) is a senior bowler and has to take more lead (role) and Mohammed Shami has a good record - I believe their (Bhuvi and Bumrah's) absence will be felt, but still India's bench strength is very strong," Zaheer Khan said.
"Bumrah is injured for the first few matches and there has been an injury concern to Bhuvneshwar Kumar, which is a concern seeing the forthcoming season, but I believe even after their injuries, the five-match tournament is a long series," Zaheer further added.
Bhuvneshwar aggravated a lower back condition during the third ODI in England. The BCCI had said that "a call on his inclusion in the Test squad will be made soon".
Zaheer also felt that the Indian team needs to play consistently throughout the series.
"I feel that it will be an Indian summer, seeing the conditions, and I wish the Indian team will play the five-Test series with the consistency with which they are doing good," Zaheer said.
"The five Test match rubber is a long series and I hope that all our bowlers will (remain) fit and the entire squad is fit. Because in a long series it is necessary they stay together as a team," he remarked.
Squad (first 3 Tests):
Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, M Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice capt), Karun Nair, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur.
(With PTI inputs)