Pacer Mohammed Shami, who last played for India in the 2015 World Cup, has apparently done enough for the management to await his return for the World Twenty20 despite nagging injury problems.
Shami, who underwent knee surgery following the World Cup semifinal loss, was recalled for last month’s limited-overs series in Australia only to break down again.
The pacer has also been ruled out of the Asia Cup starting in Bangladesh on Wednesday but captain MS Dhoni feels such is Shami’s utility he can’t be ignored. The worst case scenario is that Shami may not be fit to play the World T20 too --- India’s first match is on March 15 --- but Dhoni is ready to take a chance.
“What you have to keep in mind is that you have to announce the 15-member squad one month before the World Cup. So, either you want to pick a guy who has a chance of getting fit at the start of the tournament or you don’t want to pick him and all of a sudden in another 10 days you realise that somebody like Shami is 100% fit,” Dhoni told a press conference before the team left for Dhaka.
“That’s the reason for him being selected. Of course, he will have to prove his fitness and everything. If he doesn’t, we have replacement that we have already talked about and the guy will be replaced. If it was a bilateral series, it would certainly be different. There you announce the team 7-10 days in advance. But it’s a big stage we are talking about, the World Twenty20,” he said.
The left knee injury, and the Grade 2 hamstring injury in the same leg in January, has seen Shami stay away from international cricket for almost a year now. So pressing has been the need to assess his fitness that Andrew Leipus, the chief physiotherapist at the National Cricket Academy, flew in earlier in the week to check his recovery. Shami has been advised rest at the cost of playing in the Asia Cup because Dhoni feels a fit Shami could be a game-changer at the WT20.
“He has been one bowler who has really bowled well with the new ball and also at the death. So, that was considered. At the same time, the chances of him not being fit were also considered. If he has some other kind of injury, he may not feature and that’s fair enough. But at least if he’s fit our bowling attack looks even better,” said Dhoni.