Unlike the 2019 World Cup campaign, the Indian team management seems to have absolute clarity on the role of each squad member, leaving a world class operator like Shami on the bench
At times, the greatest of actors don’t fit the character of a particular film and in director Rohit Sharma‘s 70 mm World Cup panorama, Mohammed Shami is that protagonist who is missing out on a meaty role. Unlike the 2019 World Cup campaign, the Indian team management seems to have absolute clarity on the role of each squad member, leaving a world class operator like Shami on the bench for the first three games of the ODI showpiece.
With the team ticking all the boxes so far, Shami, who is among the best in the business and ended with a five wicket haul against Australia ahead of the World Cup, might just have to keep warming the bench in the coming fixtures.
Shardul Thakur, who has bowled a total of 8 overs in two games, is the fourth fast bowling option on a flat deck and if it is a spin friendly track like the one in Chennai, R Ashwin comes in to the eleven in place of Thakur to complement Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja.
There seems to be crystal clarity even on the batting front. Unlike the 2019 edition, the lead up of which saw the number four position become a game of musical chairs, Shreyas Iyer, if he is fit, is the clear choice in that position.
Even though he oozes X factor, Suryakumar Yadav has to wait for his return. Rohit Sharma has led from the front thus far and India look the team to beat in the World Cup. However, there are a few questions that need to be answered.
Can the team rely on Hardik as the third seamer? Should Shami not play in place of Thakur as the latter has not yet been required with the bat at number 8? Speaking to PTI, former chief selector MSK Prasad lauded the team’s horses for courses approach.
“They are using horses for courses and it is working fantastically well for the team. If you see they used Ashwin in Chennai and Shardul for the other two games (in Delhi and Ahmedabad). Last game, Shardul was not required as the others did the job (he bowled only two overs),” said the former India wicketkeeper.
“Shami will come into picture if they want to rotate Siraj. Replacements are very clear right now, Sky will replace Shreyas if there is a need, Ishan will replace Gill at the top and Shardul will play if it is a flat deck. Aswhin will come in his place if it is a turning track.”
Hardik lends a critical balance to the playing eleven but considering his fitness issues in the past, can he be expected to bowl 10 overs game after game as the third seamer if the need arises?
“With Hardik, you can’t expect him to bowl 10 overs in every game. The job that he is doing. of bowling 5-6 overs per game, that is good enough. Team management seems to have absolute clarity on the role of every individual,” added Prasad.
As far as Shami is concerned, the champion bowler might get a go in the later stages of the league phase. India played their opener on October 8 and their ninth and last league phase fixture is against Netherlands on November 12.
Besides role clarity, the management has also been very consistent with workload management. Considering that and length of the tournament, Shami will be keep him ready for the opportunity.