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Mohammad Shami isn’t the first paceman seen as a future India spearhead to struggle in Delhi Daredevils colours. Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron too flopped here.
After an unimpressive show in the UAE leg, Shami defended his poor run saying the absence of a Bhuvneshwar Kumar-like bowler who can keep things tight at the other end isn’t allowing him to be his usual attacking self.
For experts, this lack of Plan B is where the fault lies, not just with him but some other home pacers as well. With a long England tour not too far away and India looking to avoid the disaster of 2011, the BCCI can ill-afford a bowling line-up out of form.
There is worry. Zaheer Khan is out injured, again. Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav have only played on and off for their franchises. Mohit Sharma and Varun Aaron did well in the UAE but have struggled in India. Only Bhuvneshwar, for Sunrisers, has been consistent.
Too much work
Shami, with his lively pace, is considered one of the best bets, but experts feel he is being over-worked and not able to think. "You cannot treat a horse like a donkey and keep piling on the workload," Manoj Prabhakar, the former India paceman, was caustic.
"Shami depends on rhythm. Such bowlers need rest to introspect if you are to prolong their careers. The captain or the franchise will always want to field the best XI and the main bowlers but the board has to put its foot down."
Although he has bowled his full quota of 32 overs in eight games, he has taken just four wickets at an abysmal average of 66.75. His economy rate too has been high at 8.34.
Others feel most India pacers in the IPL are failing due to a lack of variation and sheer pace. They feel bowlers like Shami who thrive on reverse swing will have to learn to be accurate and swing the ball. To do both successfully, they may have to cut their pace to the level of Bhuvneshwar. Otherwise, they will need express pace and be accurate.
However, Madan Lal, former India pacer and coach, is not too worried. "I don’t think the performance of our bowlers should be a big worry if you are taking into account the national context. In T20, you have short boundaries, so bowlers will go for runs. They have to learn conventional swing and be accurate."
When Daredevils face Hyderabad on Saturday, all eyes will be on how skipper Kevin Pietersen and his weak batsmen fare against Steyn and Bhuvneshwar. And whether Shami can match the pace duo.