#INDvAUS: India set for Mohammed Shami boost for Dharamshala Test? – After impressing in Vijay Hazare final, paceman could be considered for Dharamshala Test
Mohammed Shami has missed India’s last six Test matches due to knee injury (Reuters)
India pacer Mohammed Shami may be considered for the fourth and final Test against Australia in Dharamshala, starting on March 25.
Shami, who has been nursing a sore knee since the third Test in Mohali against England last December and has missed six Tests since, returned to action earlier this month for Bengal in the Vijay Hazare Trophy one-dayers.
He bowled seven overs in the Group C match against Gujarat in Chennai before joining the Indian Test team to be monitored by the medical staff.
Shami bowled at the India nets before the Ranchi Test. Satisfied with his progress, the Indian think-tank sent him to play the Vijay Hazare Trophy final against Tamil Nadu on Monday in New Delhi, where he bowled 8.2 overs without discomfort, taking four wickets for 26 runs.
A Board of Control for Cricket in India source told DNA on Tuesday that the national selectors would await the physio's report before deciding on playing him in Dharamshala. "The physio has to assess. The selectors will receive the report on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning and then take a call on Shami. He is progressing well and showed no signs of discomfort in the Vijay Hazare final."
However, observers who watched the final live felt that Shami did not go all out while running in to bowl. They felt that he should have played two-three matches to judge his fitness. "What will they judge his fitness from just the final," asked a former player.
India captain Virat Kohli did not rule out the possibility of including Shami in the squad for Dharamshala. "We sent him to play because we saw him bowling 10-12 overs in a go and we wanted to give him some match practice so. I don't know about his selection. I haven't spoken to the selectors still. There are all kinds of possibilities approaching the next Test," Kohli said.
Shami has had a history of breaking down with injury, particularly knee, and has been carefully monitored. Kohli feared before the Chennai Test against England last December that he did not want to lose Shami for the rest of the season.
Keeping in mind Shami's injury, Kohli spoke about the role of fast bowlers and the need to preserve them. "It was important to use them in short bursts and attack the batsmen, try to pick up a wicket or two in the spell if possible, but otherwise, contain runs. That is the way we have used them (pacers) so far," Kohli said.
Dharamshala could offer a nice hard pitch that could assist the pacers early on, unlike the low-slow ones of Pune and Bengaluru or the near-flat track of Ranchi. The pacers could be used for longer spells, which would mean more overs for Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma. Kohli was cautious. "We use them according to conditions. If you remember the game in Kolkata (against New Zealand in September-October), we used them for longer spells because the wicket allowed us to do that. They have been very good. Whenever we have asked the fast bowlers, they have been very good."
Shami played a crucial role on his home ground in Kolkata in that Test, picking up three wickets in each innings, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar ran away with a five-for in the first innings.
In Shami's absence, Umesh Yadav has stepped up to be the lead pacer even though Ishant Sharma is the senior most. Shami's time out of the team has allowed Sharma to share the new ball with Yadav.
India head coach Anil Kumble had said not long ago: "To have someone like Bhuvi and Ishant sitting out is a credit to the way Umesh and Shami have bowled this season. And yes, workload is something that we monitor, especially Shami because he came back 18 months after being away from the game. It is not easy for any cricketer, so that is something we are constantly monitoring. It is important that these guys are given enough breaks.
Shami and Umesh have bowled not just with the new ball but also what is really creditable has been the way they have been able to come back and bowl in the last hour of the day, coming back in the third spell or probably sometimes the fourth spell, really rattling the batsmen and picking up the wickets and that is something I am pleased about."
Will the Umesh-Shami reunion with the red ball in Team India whites happen in Dharamshala?
Number of five-wicket hauls Mohammed Shami has taken in his Test career so far, one of which has come against Australia
Number of wickets Mohammed Shami has taken against Australia in Tests at an average of 35.80
DID YOU KNOW?
Mohammed Shami hasn't played a Test since November last year due to a knee injury