Mohammed Shami's four-year One Day International (ODI) career can be split into two parts. The first two years that saw him become a mainstay in the Indian team and the next two years, that he spent on the sidelines battling with injuries.
Shami's last ODI was the 2015 World Cup semi-final against Australia which India lost by 95 runs. Since then he has featured for India in a few Test matches and played in the Indian Premier League (IPL) recently for the Delhi Daredevils, where he didn't have the best of times, picking up just four wickets while going for over 8 runs per over in every game he played.
The selectors though showed great faith in the Bengal pacer's abilities by picking him over a host of other bowlers who have done well either in the IPL or in the domestic circuit in the recent past. Their choice though can be justified if you take a look at Shami's staggering numbers in ODIs.
The 26-year-old averages almost two wickets every game, having collected 87 in just 47 matches playing for the Men in Blue. In the 46 innings that he has had to bowl in, he's gone wicket-less in just five. So with Shami on the side, you simply have a bowlers that will get you wickets, irrespective of the situation of the match.
In this era of slam-bang cricket, where even scores over 350 are unsafe, Shami's wicket-taking ability could prove to be priceless. However after a long time, India will go into a tournament of this magnitude with a pace attack that can cause any team in the world some problems.
In Bhuvneshwar Kumar, India have an immaculate bowler at either ends of innings. Jasprit Bumrah has proved to be an asset and also an answer to India's death bowling woes, while Umesh Yadav has gone from strength to strength in the last two years, emerging as a big source of wickets at the start of the innings.
So despite the amazing numbers, Shami may have a fight on his hands to get into the first eleven. The only thing that might prompt India to look elsewhere is Shami's lack of game time in this format. Shami's last appearance for India in any format came back in November 2016, in the Test series against England.
The pacer though has great abilities. He can swing the ball both ways, reverse it and do so with great accuracy and control. There have been times when he has gone for runs, his economy rate of 5.54 in ODIs shows that, but his ability to keep chipping away with the wickets makes him a very handy bowler to have.
The 26-year-old has just played four matches in England previously, but he will have good memories of that after he managed to take eight wickets at an economy rate of less than five in those games. Five of those wickets also came at venues where India is slated to play their matches in the upcoming Champions trophy. India won that series 3-1, albeit against an England side not as strong as the one today, but Shami's contribution was noteworthy.
Shami has been working hard on his fitness and in a recent interview said that he had made attempts to iron out the weaknesses in his game. "Two years is a long time to be out of ODI squad. In these two years, I have focused on my strength and fitness. I have also worked on my weaknesses. I have got leaner. I am hopeful that I can perform well in the upcoming Champions Trophy. I want to give my best shot," he said after being named in the Champions Trophy squad.
Sourav Ganguly called Shami's inclusion in the team as an automatic choice and even if the 26-year-old made his way to the Indian squad for the Champions Trophy, he may have to wait for his chance when it comes to a place in the first eleven.
Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah's place in the side seems certain and it will be a toss up between Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami for the third pacer in the team. Hardik Pandya's inclusion in the side could also have an effect on the selection of the Bengal bowler. In recent times, when Shami was injured, the bowling attack picked itself, but with the return of this fine wicket-taker, the Indian think tank will have a selection headache. But in this case, they won't mind it at all.
Updated Date: May 30, 2017 04:56 AM