November 29, 2023


Mohammed Shami strengthened his case for a place in India’s Playing XI at the T20 World Cup as he produced a fiery, match-winning over to take his team over the line in the warm-up match against Australia in Brisbane on Monday.

Mohammed Shami strengthened his case for a place in India’s Playing XI at the T20 World Cup as he produced a fiery, match-winning over to take his team over the line in the warm-up match against Australia in Brisbane on Monday. Shami, who has not played a T20I game for India since last year’s World Cup, did not feature in the Playing XI, but came on to bowl the final over of the match, with Australia needing 11 to win. And bowling the crunch over, Shami, who was officially named as Jasprit Bumrah’s replacement by the BCCI last week, picked up three wickets while giving away just four runs as India beat Australia by six runs at the Gabba.

Shami conceded two doubles off the first two balls of the over, but what transpired from there was something no one would have seen coming. Shami dismissed Pat Cummins out caught in the deep with Virat Kohli completing a one-handed screamer at long on. Shami followed it by running out Ashton Agar at the non-striker’s end to make it 7 needed off two. Australia’s hopes for a tie were shattered by Shami, who knocked over Josh Inglis and off the penultimate delivery and sent Kane Richardson packing with a fiery yorker to bowl Australia out for 180.

Shami’s memorable over promises to solve India’s death bowling woes, which have come to the fore with Bumrah out injured. In Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh and Harshal Patel, India had a potent bowling attack but one that lacked genuine pace as none three quicks are express bowlers. For the longest time, it seemed as if Shami needed more time, and with each passing over, the chances of the India quick appearing for the Pakistan tie got dimmer. But captain Rohit Sharma pulled an ace, and unleased Shami when Australia least expected it. The ‘super-sub’ Shami came on and bent his back to send the home team packing.

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Shami was an late inclusion; as a matter of fact a late replacement for Bumrah. Named in the squad for Australia T20Is, Shami’s return was delayed because of Covid, which further ruled him out of South Africa T20Is and ODIs. Shami was at the NCA, training hard to return and and if his Instagram story of boarding a flight to Australia was not enough, the fact that he clean bowled Dinesh Karthik in the nets a day ago surely did.

If there were any lingering doubts over Shami’s match-fitness, today is a good beginning to think otherwise. With one more World Cup warm-up fixture left for India against New Zealand, expect Shami to come out all guns blazing and bowl all four overs to convince the team management that he indeed is match-ready.

Besides Shami, KL Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav were the other stars, both of whom scored crucial half-centuries to take India to 186/7. Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya could not get going, while Virat Kohli and Dinesh Karthik got starts but could not convert. In reply, Australia got off to a fine start, with openers Mitchell Marsh and Aaron Finch putting 41 quick runs.

But where Australia were severely let down was their middle order, as no one barring the top four could enter double digits. Finch top scored with 76 and battled on till the 18th over, but once he was castled by a Harshal slower delivery, Indian bowlers held their nerves to pull off a narrow but well earned six-run victory.

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