Mohammed Shami seemed lost to white-ball cricket after the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 in Australia and New Zealand, battling with injuries and personal issues, but he has put all of that behind to stage a remarkable comeback to be in the mix along with Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar as India’s new-ball attack this time in England and Wales.
Shami's fitness and his bowling on the recent tours of Australia and New Zealand ended the team’s quest for a reliable fast bowler to team up with the other two.
Shami’s lead partners from the 2015 edition, Mohit Sharma and Umesh Yadav, receded to the background with fitness and form issues. India had tried a number of new-ball bowlers when Shami was away from the squad, but the selectors and the team management saw reason to welcome him back in the fold.
For, he showed that he had not lost any of his skills and that his bowling retained the bite that made him such a valued member of the team. The 14 wickets that he picked up in Australia and New Zealand were his way of expressing himself after his rehabilitation and workload were managed well in the four years since he had knee surgery immediately after the last World Cup. More than anything else, his mental strength is what makes him a prized asset to the team.
To be sure, if the tracks in England are on the flatter side, leaning towards the batsmen, Shami and his fellow quick bowlers have the ability to fall back on the traditional strengths of line and length as well reverse swing with the old ball to restrict the scoring and peg a few wickets back. It is this quality that Shami will be expected to showcase relentlessly even as he unravels his whole range of skills on more helpful pitches.
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Senior opener Mandhana added that India, who have lost six of the eight ODIs they've played this year, have to target scores of 250-260 on a regular basis.
The joint statement took tournament organisers RLWC2021 by surprise as it came just a week after they confirmed the World Cup would go ahead as planned.
The 15-year-old Praggnanandhaa (Elo rating 2608), playing in his maiden World Cup, did not seem overawed by the reputation and superior rating (Elo 2760) of his opponent and held him to a 29-move draw in a Grunfeld Burille Variation opening.