Shami makes a comeback, T20 squad announced

The fast bowler, who was ruled out of the Australia tour owing to a hamstring injury, comes back into the 15-man squad announced for the upcoming Asia Cup and the ICC World Twenty20.

Mohammad Shami's last international match was the World Cup 2015 semi-final against Australia in Sydney.   -  Getty Images

Amidst predictable names, Pawan Negi and Mohammed Shami find themselves in the mix as the National selectors picked the Twenty20 squad for the Asia Cup and World Cup here on Friday.

Expectedly the experience factor carried Yuvraj Singh, Ashish Nehra and Harbhajan Singh through while youngsters Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya made the grade because of the impact they made against Australia.

Delhi’s 23-year-old Negi, a left-arm spinner who has shown glimpses of his ability to wield the long-handle, has been retained from the squad announced for the upcoming three-match series against World champion Sri Lanka.

Equally, the inclusion of pacer Mohammed Shami comes as a surprise of sorts since he is yet to prove his fitness after a Grade II injury to his left hamstring at Perth kept him out ahead of the series in Australia. He was making a comeback after a nine-month lay off during which he underwent a knee-surgery.

On his return to domestic cricket, he played just two 50-over matches (two for 52 against UP and one for 40 against MP) in Vijay Hazare Trophy and two more (three for 18 vs Hyderabad and two for 30 against Tamil Nadu) in the 20-over Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

Bhuvneshwar misses the cut

The selectors’ faith in Shami’s ability resulted in Friday’s birthday-boy Bhuvneshwar Kumar missing the cut.

In the words of Chief selector Sandeep Patil, “we have seen that horses-for-course policy works. Shami has the ability of bowl yorkers and that should help. The World Cup is still a month away and he has time (to recover).”

Since the squad is meant for both Asia Cup and World Cup, one can expect Shami to be handled with care in the days leading to the World Cup where India begins its campaign on March 15.

Negi, not expected to be part of the playing XI unless Ravindra Jadeja has issues related to form and fitness, has picked up 46 wickets from 56 T20 matches and another 13 from 21 IPL matches. As Patil said in his defence, “Sometimes, in T20 cricket, it can all come down to two or one overs. This is where you need a player who can give you big runs.”

With Virat Kohli returning to the squad after being rested for the Sri Lanka series, Manish Pandey had to make way. “Manish Pandey performed exceptionally well in Australia (in the final One-Day International) but we must remember that only 11 players get to play. In this line-up it was difficult to accommodate him. He will surely get his chances.”

Talking about the overall selection, Patil said: “We considered the performances in domestic cricket, the players’ form and fitness before zeroing in on the final squad. This is the best combination of 15 players we could think of.”

Squad: M. S. Dhoni (c and wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra, Ajinkya Rahane, Harbhajan Singh, Mohammad Shami, Pawan Negi.

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