England’s tour of India 2016-17 concludes on February 1st, 2017, and, considering that India’s next limited-overs assignment is the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, Mohammed Shami is likely to have not played an ODI for more than a couple of years, with his last ODI being the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 semi-final against Australia on 26th March 2015. Shami, who was born in Uttar Pradesh (UP) but moved to Kolkata to pursue cricket seriously, suffered a right knee injury during the Mohali Test against England and is, therefore, likely to be out of action for more than a month.
As well as Mohammed Shami has bowled in almost every one of the games he has played for India since making his Test debut in Sachin Tendulkar‘s 199th Test, at the Eden Gardens against the West Indies, he is extremely injury prone and the latest knee injury is proof of how susceptible his body is, to workload. Shami was able to play only the first three Tests against the Poms, but he had, until the Mohali Test, played and bowled in full throttle in each one of India’s 10 Tests, starting with the Antigua Test in July.
So, in a way, Shami and the Indian team management can be satisfied with his body holding up and managing the workload reasonably well. But the latest injury setback seems to have devastated the 26-year-old pacer, who has gone on to say, “I’ve reached a stage when even if there’s the slightest of discomfort, it’s easy to identify it. After the Rajkot match, I could see a bit of swelling in the knee and I immediately brought it to the coach’s notice and spoke to the captain.” “I’ve realised during these recurring injuries. Bearing pain is the easier part. What I can’t bear easily is the whole idea of having to stay away from action, away from my family, away from my team-mates, staying alone in hotels, recovering from an injury, and waiting to get back.”
Mohammed Shami is, in my opinion, the most accomplished Indian fast bowler and he will be missed by MS Dhoni during the ODI and T20I series against England, who are now a completely different side to the one who were knocked out by Bangladesh in the group stage of the ICC World Cup 2015 held in Australia and New Zealand.
Although Mohammed Shami’s right knee injury is a major setback for him and India, one player who can benefit the most is Hardik Pandya, who made his ODI debut against New Zealand in Dharamsala and made everyone sit up and take notice of his newfound efficiency with the ball in his hand.
India’s ODI and T20I skipper was the first one to take everyone aback by giving one of the two new balls to the Baroda batting all-rounder, but Hardik’s seam bowling was eye-catching, as he ran in hard and made the ball talk. He swung the ball both ways and befuddled Martin Guptill and co., who, just as much as everyone watching, were surprised by the pace at which (140 kmph and more) Hardik bowled and how he prodigiously swung the ball in the air and off the pitch, making life extremely hard for the hard-hitting Blackcaps’ batsmen.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who had suffered back strain in the Kolkata Test against New Zealand and consequently did not feature in the ODI series against the same opposition, has regained fitness and could be in contention for a place in the Indian playing XI during the ODI and T20I series against England. But Dhoni likes versatile players and Hardik, as we all know, is a dangerous lower-order batsman on his day and going by his showing with the ball against Kane Williamson’s men, can once again be used as a new-ball bowler. He is a live wire on the field too.
I am saying Hardik can feature in India’s playing XI during the three-ODI and three-T20I series against England, despite the possibility of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja returning to India’s ODI and T20I squads for the series against England, after being rested for the ODI series against New Zealand.
What will also be interesting to see is, whether Suresh Raina returns to India’s squad for the ODIs and T20Is against England and is picked in the playing XI. Raina missed the whole of the five-ODI series against New Zealand due to viral fever and Kedar Jadhav proved that he is well capable of filling the void left by Raina, by contributing with the bat and more importantly, chipping in with several overs and providing crucial breakthroughs for India. Jadhav picked six wickets in five ODIs and was extremely economical for a fifth bowler, as well, proven by his economy rate of 4.05 runs/over.