Dubai: Pacer Mohammed Shami has returned to India’s Twenty20 after being named by the selectors as the replacement for injured Jasprit Bumrah in the Twenty20 World Cup, beginning in Australia on Sunday.
“The All-India Senior Selection Committee has named Mohammed Shami as Jasprit Bumrah’s replacement in India’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup squad. Shami has reached Australia and will link up with the squad in Brisbane ahead of the warm-up matches,” said a statement from the Board of Control for India on Friday. “Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur have been named as backups and will travel to Australia shortly,” it added.
The veteran pacer was last part of the Indian Twenty20 team during the previous Twenty20 World Cup held in UAE last November. Shami, who played a big role in Gujarat Titans winning their maiden Indian Premier League title this year, has not played any competitive cricket since the One Day Internationals against England in July after testing positive for Covid before the start of the Twenty20 series against Australia in September.
Shami will be able to fill the huge void created by the absence of India’s ace pacer Bumrah, who again suffered a back injury on his return during the Australia series. He had initially skipped the South Africa series, but subsequently was ruled out of the World Cup. The pacer had also missed the Asia Cup, which Sri Lanka had won in UAE, due to the back injury.
The experience of Shami, who initially was in the reserves, will give Indian bowling the much-needed boost on the bouncy Australian wickets where he is likely to extract extra bounce and pace that could test the batters. The Bengal pacer had picked 20 wickets in 16 matches for champions Gujarat Titans, including 11 wickets in power-play, during the IPL 2022.
However, it will be important for Shami to get a few warm-up games under his belt as he had to wait patiently during both the home series against Australia and South Africa due to Covid.
Many legends had batted for speed sensation Umran Malik to be picked as a replacement as the Kashmiri’s pace will be the X-factor on the Australian wickets
In an recent interview to Gulf News, Pakistan legend Wasim Akram said: “Umran Malik is quick. If I were in think tank, then I will have him in the squad all the time. The more he plays, the better he will become. Experience in Twenty20 matters a lot.” But the Indian think tank played it safe and instead opted to stick with experience than thrust the rookie pacer on the big stage.
India squad for ICC T20 World Cup:
Rohit Sharma (captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), Hardik Pandya, R. Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Arshdeep Singh, Mohammed Shami.