Mohammed Shami returned to the scheme of things in T20 cricket as the national selection committee picked the season fast bowler as a stand-by for next month’s T20 World Cup and also picked him in the squad for the home T20I series against Australia and South Africa.
Even though he played in the Indian Premier League this year, Shami hasn’t played T20Is since last year, and the upcoming six games will help him regain the rhythm and would perhaps boost his confidence of bowling at the death.
Former India international Anshuman Gaekwad, however, believes that the selectors could have preferred Shami over Arshdeep Singh in the 15-member squad for the T20 World Cup.
“I would have preferred Shami to Arshdeep because firstly, you are playing in Australia. Secondly, you need a bit of experience to bowl on those wickets. It’s not that you can easily go and bowl and get used to those wickets and ultimately, it’s the World Cup,” Gaekwad told Sportstar on Monday.
A former national selector and an erstwhile coach of the Indian team, Gaekwad understands what experienced players like Shami bring to the table for a big-ticket event like the World Cup, and that’s why feels that Shami could have been more effective in the Australian conditions.
“Shami has been included in the home series against Australia and South Africa, and that’s more the reason why he should have been kept in the squad for the T20 World Cup as well. Besides his experience, Shami has a knack of picking up wickets as and when required. You need a strike bowler, so Shami could have been more effective,” Gaekwad said.
Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel have returned to India’s squad for the T20 World Cup and will also feature in the home series. Bumrah had to miss out on the Asia Cup due to an injury and after undergoing rehab at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, he cleared the fitness test, along with Harshal.
While Gaekwad believes that the side looks balanced otherwise, the selectors could have considered looking at one more all-rounder. “You already have five fast bowlers, three spinners and two wicket-keepers. You have got two wicket-keepers because in case there is an injury, you have a back-up. Similarly if you look at the batters, from one to five, there’s no alternative there. If you look at that, all of them will play almost every time, so you don’t have any option left there,” he said.
“There should have been one more all-rounder who could bat and bowl as well, because now, you only have Hardik Pandya playing that role,” Gaekwad said. Deepak Hooda is perhaps the other all-rounder the selectors are looking at, but Gaekwad is not quite sure whether Hooda will get enough opportunities to bowl in the Australian conditions, which will be completely different to the Indian surfaces.
India hasn’t won an ICC title since 2013 and under Rohit Sharma’s leadership, the team hopes to shrug off the Asia Cup disappointments and break the title jinx when they take the field in Australia.