Around this time next month, the Indian team is expected to leave for Australia for the T20 World Cup, and in the lead-up to the tournament, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has ensured that it manages the workload of its top bowlers.
While none of the batters, who are part of the 15-member squad, have been rested for the home T20I series against Australia and South Africa, the BCCI secretary Jay Shah has confirmed that Hardik, Arshdeep and Bhuvneshwar will be reporting to the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru for conditioning-related work during the course of the home series against Australia and South Africa.
Hardik, Bhuvneshwar and Arshdeep have been playing non-stop cricket for quite a while and the team management believes that ahead of the big-ticket tournament, it is important to make sure that the bowlers are well taken care of.
The Board insiders are of the opinion that with both Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel back in the scheme of things for the home series, it is a wise decision to give Hardik, Bhuvneshwar and Arshdeep a ‘short break’ so that they can work on their fitness and be absolutely ready for the World Cup.
But former national selector Saba Karim believes that the decision to pick Mohammed Shami as a standby for the World Cup squad somehow indicates that the selectors still have doubts over the fitness of Bumrah and Harshal, who return to the squad after an injury lay-off.
“The fact remains that they have drafted Mohammed Shami as a standby for the World Cup also goes to show that maybe they still have doubts about Bumrah and Harshal’s fitness. That’s why perhaps they want to keep Shami in the loop,” Karim told Sportstar.
For the T20I series against Australia and South Africa, both the World Cup stand-byes Shami and Deepak Chahar have been drafted into the squad. “In case god forbid something untowards to happen to either of them (Bumrah or Harshal) for the World Cup, Shami can easily be drafted in. The fact that he is part of the Australia series shows that they want him to match-fit, so that they can pull him into the World Cup squad if needed,” Karim, a former India international said.
Over the last few months, the team management and the selectors had decided to rest some of the top players - including captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli - on a rotation policy to manage their workload, but now with barely a month left for the ICC event, the Indian team will just have six T20Is to prepare before they board the flight to Australia.
And that’s why, many in the cricketing fraternity believed that it was important for India to field a full-strength T20I squad for the upcoming home series, so that the players get enough game time and also there is a clarity of roles.
But by including Chahar and Shami in both the home series, the selectors have clearly indicated that they want both the fast bowlers to be match-ready, so that in case there is need for a replacement, one of them can be drafted in.
India’s home T20I series against Australia begins in Mohali on September 20.
India Squad for Australia T20Is: 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, Mohd. Shami, Harshal Patel, Deepak Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah.
India squad for South Africa T20Is: Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), R. Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Arshdeep Singh, Mohd. Shami, Harshal Patel, Deepak Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah.