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regular-article-logo Thursday, 22 February 2024

World Cup 2023: Pitch for Mohammed Shami against Bangladesh in pace-friendly Pune

Shami hasn’t been the first-choice pacer in ODIs lately with Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj being preferred ahead of him

Indranil Majumdar Pune Published 17.10.23, 07:49 AM
Mohammed Shami could find a place in the India XI against Bangladesh in Pune on Thursday.

Mohammed Shami could find a place in the India XI against Bangladesh in Pune on Thursday. PTI picture

India’s near-perfect performance in their three matches in the World Cup has added an aura of invincibility which will be hard to crack.

Much like premium content which comes behind a paywall in this digital era, Rohit Sharma’s men are an unputdownable force which people would be willing to pay a fortune to watch. Following the cold-blooded demolition of Pakistan in Ahmedabad, the players preferred a period of lull before resuming their drive against Bangladesh on Thursday. An optional practice session has been slotted for Tuesday, 48 hours after their arrival in Pune. A four-day gap between matches is a luxury in today’s cricket but it also provides the players and the support staff time to reflect on the players’ workload.

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India’s bench-cast has been quite intimidating. While Ravichandran Ashwin has played in Chennai and Ishan Kishan filled in for Shubman Gill in the first two matches, Mohammed Shami and Suryakumar Yadav haven’t got an opportunity yet.

The team management is toying with the idea of playing Shami against Bangladesh to keep him battle-ready in case the fast bowler is needed in the latter stages of the tournament. The thinking has also been driven by the fact that Bangladesh are the only low-key opposition they counter before taking on heavyweights New Zealand, England and South Africa.

It would be tough to slot in Shami in those matches since India are likely to go with three spinners to utilise the rivals’ weakness against spin. Shami hasn’t been the first-choice pacer in ODIs lately with Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj being preferred ahead of him. The third seamer’s slot has been taken by Shardul Thakur since he is considered a better batsman.

Pune will be hosting the first of its five World Cup ma­tches on Thursday and it is as­sumed that the fresh wicket would assist the pacers. Shami has always delivered when given an opportunity and even returned a five-wicket haul against Australia last month when he featured in two of the three-match series.

If Shami does play, Shardul may have to sit out. The other option could be to give Bumrah or Siraj a break. If the injured Shakib-al Hasan misses out against India, Bangladesh will be badly affected.

Shami could prove to be a handful in the cool climes of Pune and the ball is expected to dart off the seam. The dew too could have an effect on the team bowling second. He has always remained in the team’s plans but it has been tough to effect changes in the bowling unit given the way the team has been performing.

Another school of thought is that with the top-order in fine nick, playing five specialist bowlers could be beneficial. The team could try out this option before heading into the knockouts.

India-Bangladesh encounters have never been shorn of drama. In the 2015 quarter-final at the MCG, Bangladesh cried foul after centurion Rohit got a no-ball reprieve
on 90.

“We are ready for whatever combination we want to play. That’s the challenge going forward for us as a team, depending on what kind of conditions we play in,” Rohit said before the Pakistan game.

“If there is a change or two, we need to make, we will be ready with that. And the guys have been informed very well in advance about these kind of changes.”

While winning is a habit, peaking at the right time is equally important. Irrespective of whether or not they stand on the podium on the night of November 19, India’s brand of cricket could be a template to showcase domination in world cricket.

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