ICC T20 World Cup: Who will replace injured Jasprit Bumrah?
Jasprit Bumrah's untimely back injury has largely dented Team India's T20 World Cup preparations. While his replacement is yet to be announced, skipper Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid have hinted that Mohammed Shami might occupy the position. Shami hasn't played a T20I since last year's T20 World Cup. However, he is one of the four reserves in India's T20 WC squad.
Dravid, in a presser, stated that the officials aren't rushing to name Bumrah's replacement. However, he admitted that Shami is in contention. "Shami obviously is someone who's in the standbys, but unfortunately for us, he couldn't play this series," ESPNcricinfo quoted Dravid as saying. "He's in the NCA at the moment - we'll have to get reports as to how he's recovering."
Meanwhile, Rohit suggested that the team would be looking for a bowler with experience in Australian conditions. "We've got to get someone in who's got experience, who's bowled in Australia, and see what he has to offer," Rohit said after the 3rd T20I against South Africa. "There are a few guys in the reckoning, but we'll make that call once we reach Australia."
Veteran pacer Shami was supposed to play the recently-concluded T20I series against South Africa and Australia. However, a positive COVID-19 test hindered his comeback plans to the T20I set-up. Shami, however, has recovered from COVID-19 and is at the NCA to regain match fitness. Notably, the 32-year-old is well versed with Australian tracks and also has the required pace in his arsenal.
Shami has played just 17 T20Is, scalping 18 wickets at an economy rate of 9.55. He took six wickets in five appearances in last year's mega event with his economy rate being 8.84. However, the pacer has been sensational in IPL in recent years. Since 2019, Shami has taken 78 wickets in 58 appearances in the tournament, fourth-most for any bowler.
With Bumrah being unavailable and Bhuvneshwar Kumar's form being a concern, Team India needs a solid new-ball bowler. Shami can swing the ball both ways and launch a bouncer barrage. His tally of 11 wickets in powerplay was joint-highest for a bowler in IPL 2022 alongside Mukesh Choudhry. The former bowled at an economy rate of 6.62 runs per over.
Notably, Shami has been on multiple tours of Australia and enjoyed a gala time in those conditions. He was involved in India's Test series victories Down Under. Shami also featured in the 2015 ODI World Cup, where he was among the top five wicket-takers. Across all international formats, Shami has taken 53 wickets in 29 innings in Australian conditions.
Deepak Chahar is the other pacer on India's standby list. Although the CSK star doesn't have pace like Shami, he is a handy batter. Moreover, he has done well as a new-ball bowler in the IPL. Chahar has 43 powerplay wickets in the league at an economy rate of 7.75. Overall in T20s, he has 54 wickets inside the Powerplay in 85 innings.
In Shami's comparison, Chahar's T20I record is way better. The latter has taken 29 wickets in 24 matches, with his economy rate being 8.17. His figures of 6/7 against Bangladesh are the best for a full-member team bowler in T20Is. Chahar also has a hat-trick under his belt in the format. Hence, ignoring him won't be easy for the selectors and the team management.
Chahar has made a significant mark with his batting too. He has smashed a couple of half-centuries in just nine ODIs at a strike rate of 101.69. The right-handed batter has played some crucial knocks in IPL as well. His 17-ball 31 in the recently-concluded third T20I against South Africa impressed one and all. In Ravindra Jadeja's absence, Chahar can be a handy inclusion.
Although all these factors make Chahar a lucrative option, Shami scores over him as the current squad doesn't have a genuine pacer in Bumrah's absence. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, and Harshal Patel are classified as medium-pacers, while Chahar falls in the same category. While Avesh Khan, Mohammed Siraj, and Umran Malik have the required pace, delivering consistently has been an issue for them.
Hence, Shami's inclusion seems on the cards if he clears the required fitness test. Coach Dravid also indicated the same while speaking on the matter. "We'll take a call, once I get reports on how he's (Shami) feeling, then we can take a call and the selectors can take a call on how we move forward on it," stated Dravid.