Former India coach Ravi Shastri on Thursday raised questions over the exclusion of ace India pacer Mohammad Shami from the Asia Cup squad where the fancied Indian team lost two consecutive matches and failed to qualify for the final. The Indian cricket team failed to defend their total after having batted first in two consecutive matches within a span of four days. India was beaten by Pakistan on September 4 and then Sri Lanka also managed to hunt down the target posted by Indian batters.
Veteran Ravi Shastri raised the question regarding Shami’s exclusion keeping in mind the T20 World Cup that starts in approximately a month’s time. Upset over the pacer not being included in the team, he termed the decision absolutely baffling. “Mohammed Shami sitting at home and cooling his heels baffles me,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Ravi Shastri as saying.
Shastri’s concerns derived primarily from India’s entry into the tournament with only three specialist fast bowlers. Due to Avesh Khan’s illness, India had to field just two specialist pacers in Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Arshdeep Singh, with all-rounder Hardik Pandya as the third seam option heading into the Super 4s. India could have brought Deepak Chahar into the squad because the fast bowler had been working with the team in Dubai, but instead preferred to wait on Avesh’s fitness. Their two consecutive defeats effectively eliminated them from contention for the Asia Cup final.
“You needed that extra one… Someone like Mohammed Shami sitting at home and cooling his heels baffles me. After the IPL he had, for him not to be able to make the cut is… Obviously, I’m seeing something different,” ESPNcricinfo quoted the former coach as saying. Shami had a stellar IPL season with debutants Gujurat Titans, who went on to win their maiden IPL in 2022.
The right-arm pacer took 20 wickets, but more importantly, was in peak fitness as he played in every match (16). His power-play stats were one of the best, tied with Mukesh Choudhary in terms of picking wickets. Both the bowlers took 11 wickets in the power-play. His economy of 6.62 was fifth-best among the 14 bowlers who bowled 20 or more overs in the competition. India’s bowling issues against Sri Lanka arose from their inability to pick up wickets early on. Sri Lanka’s openers Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis smashed 97 in 11.1 overs to set up the pace for their chase. Despite the fact that spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and R Ashwin brought them back with four successive wickets, Sri Lanka had already covered a considerable amount of the target in the initial stages.
Team India is out of contention for the final as Pakistan’s Naseem Shah’s two back-to-back sixes in the first two balls off the final over undid brilliant bowling by Afghanistan throughout the innings, securing a one-wicket win for Pakistan in a thrilling Super Four clash in the ongoing Asia Cup 2022 on Wednesday. An Afghanistan win would have kept India team’s hopes alive.