India captain Rohit Sharma said that pacer Jasprit Bumrah’s absence will sting at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia but his career is more important and they could not take a risk by including him when he wasn’t fully fit. While Mohammad Shami has been announced as his replacement, there remains a concern about his match fitness considering Shami last played an international T20I in last year’s edition of the same tournament in UAE.

Before India take on Pakistan in their campaign opener on October 23, they will play a warm-up game against Australia on October 17 at Brisbane. Ahead of the campaign, Rohit addressed multiple topics such as dealing with injuries when he is captain of the side, the evolution of the game since India’s title victory in the first T20 World Cup in 2007, on inspiring the younger generation and more during the Captain’s Day press conference.

Here are excerpts from the Press Conference:

On missing Jasprit Bumrah in the World Cup

We spoke to a lot of the specialists about his injury, but we did not get a decent response. This World Cup is of course important, but his career is more important. He is only 27-28 [28], there is a lot of cricket in front of him. So, we can’t take such a risk. All the specialists we spoke to were of the same opinion. There is a lot of cricket ahead of him, he will play a lot more and help India win matches. But yes, there is no doubt that he will be missed.

On Mohammad Shami’s inclusion and dealing with injury management in the India camp

Injuries are part and parcel of the sport, there is nothing much that can be done about it. When you play so many games, injuries are bound to happen. Our focus in this last year was that we should build our bench strength.

Shami was down with Covid-19 two-three weeks back, he was at home, in his farm. He was then called over to the National Cricket Academy, he went there and worked quite hard over the last 10 days. His recovery after Covid was very good. We have our practice session in Brisbane tomorrow. He [Shami] will practice with the team. Whatever we have heard about Shami so far, is very positive. He had three to four bowling sessions. All in all, everything is good as far as Shami is concerned.

When it comes to injuries, we have done a lot with regard to player management in the last one year, but these things happen, and there is not much you can do about it. Our focus in the last year was to get the players in the queue ready, and give them opportunities. We know injuries can happen anytime, so our constant focus was to give the players in the waiting enough games and back them.

The bowlers that have come to the World Cup, they have played a lot of matches. And this was our focus. I think we have somewhat received success.

On the importance of a India-Pakistan match

Babar is absolutely right [that we don’t even talk that much about cricket]. We understand the importance of the game but there is no point talking about it and creating that pressure within yourself. Whenever we meet, we ask about each other’s families. I have met all his teammates. Even our former players told us what all they talk. It is usually about ‘how their families are, how their life is, what new car they have bought or going to buy’. It is mainly that.

On the role the sixteen captains have to inspire more children

Yeah, I think we play a big part in that. I think it’s important, all of us are ambassadors in their own way. It’s important for us to carry ourselves and lead by example to show the world, especially the kids, because we want our next generation to follow the sport and play the sport at the same time, as well.

It’s a wonderful sport, and we all encourage our next generation to come forward and take up the sport. Eventually that’s what we want. We want to make the sport as global as we can and reach out to as many countries as possible.

On being part of the first T20 World Cup in 2007 and the evolution of the game since then

Yeah, I mean, it’s been a long time since 2007. When I was picked for that World Cup, I literally didn’t go with any expectations about myself nor the team. I just wanted to enjoy the tournament, play the tournament because that was my first ever World Cup, so I had no understanding of what is it like to be part of the World Cup and how big it is going to be until we won the World Cup.

Yeah, and from there until now, it’s been a long journey. The game has evolved so much that you can literally see how it’s being played now compared to what it was in 2007. 140, 150 was a good score back then, and now people try and get that score in 14, 15 overs.

Yeah, it’s just that the teams have become more fearless. They have started to take a lot of risk without worrying about the result, which I think is a good way to play this kind of format. It is something that our team is also trying to do because this is the kind of format where there is risk, but there’s literally high rewards, as well.

You’ve got to be brave enough to take those risks, and certainly we’ll be prepared to do that, as well.

I think that’s my understanding from 2007 to 2022. A lot of things have changed, obviously, but yeah, it’s been a good one to see the game evolved in all these years.

(Inputs from ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020 via Online Media Zone and ESPN Cricinfo.)

You can watch the video of the press conference here.