'If I look at him...': Sachin Tendulkar's sharp verdict on Shami replacing Bumrah in India's T20 World Cup squad

Updated on Oct 18, 2022 07:45 AM IST

Ever since Bumrah was ruled out of the tournament, the Indian team management has been sweating over who will bowl in the slog overs

Jasorit Bumrah; Sachin Tendulkar; Mohammed Shami
Jasorit Bumrah; Sachin Tendulkar; Mohammed Shami
By, Mumbai

Sachin Tendulkar is confident India has the depth and balance in their side to advance to the semifinals of the T20 World Cup but he lists death overs as critical to their performance. Ever since Jasprit Bumrah was ruled out of the tournament with injury, the team management has been sweating over who will do his job of bowling two overs in the slog overs.

Asked for his views during an interview, Tendulkar, expressed confidence in Mohammed Shami being able to fill in the big hole that Bumrah's absence has created.

“Shami is good. He is Bumrah’s correct replacement. If I look at Shami... he is a good strike bowler, has been around for a long time. He has the experience of having played big matches. He is someone I have enjoyed watching bowl. He is possibly the one (to fill Bumrah’s role), (though) I don’t want to comment on the playing XI," said Tendulkar.

Shami hasn’t played a T20I game for India for 11 months, but the legend would have been pleased by the way the seamer turned up in the warm-up game against hosts Australia on Monday. Coming in to bowl the final over of the game with 10 runs needed to equal India’s total of 186, Shami picked up three wickets to seal a six-run win.

Listing the areas where India need to fill the gaps at the tournament, Tendulkar said: “Without any doubt, we will need to have good starts whether be it batting or bowling, in between we got to pick wickets, and finish well. Bowling in the death overs will be critical.”

For the former India captain, the importance of throwing ability should not be underestimated on the big grounds Down Under. "I don’t know how big the boundary lines are going to be. But for longish boundary lines (usually on grounds in Australia), athleticism and throwing ability is going to matter a lot. To be able to throw hard and get those important run outs can actually change the game.”

India is mainly banking on its batting strength to do well in the tournament. The line-up is in much better than the one that flopped at the 2021 World Cup, held in UAE. While captain Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya are seasoned players, the development of Suryakumar Yadav in the last 11 months is a big boost for the team. The expectations are high from Yadav. “It is good to have expectations, it means you have done well and people believe in you. Surya has batted beautifully, there was a stage when he was looking to cement his spot in the team. He is well past that stage now. He is at the world stage now to make a big statement. It gives you confidence knowing that people have appreciated the way he has batted. And people expect something special from him, which clearly gets reflected on the field in the way he carries himself. He is a confident man now.”

South Africa, NZ dark horses

Tendulkar picked hosts Australia, Pakistan and England as his other favourites to make it to the last four. He rated South Africa and New Zealand as the dark horses because they are playing in familiar conditions.

“From Group 2, apart from India, I would pick Pakistan if they bat well (to advance to the semifinals). If they are not batting well then South Africa is a dark horse there. They are familiar with the conditions, back home in the month of September-October this is what they experience. The pitches will be slightly soft compared to what one is used to in December-January. In the other pool, England and Australia (should qualify), and New Zealand is the dark horse because of the familiar conditions, but I would rate England ahead of them.”

But the way World Cup has got off to a stunning start, with two big upsets on the first two days, Tendulkar warned the big teams to expect more such surprises. On Sunday, Namibia stunned Asia Cup champions Sri Lanka and on Tuesday, West Indies were beaten by Scotland. Tendulkar predicted it will be a tournament of upsets as T20 cricket is bridging the gap between the smaller cricket teams and the established teams.

“Yes, I would say that because they are playing the shorter format. In a shorter format, the gap is always going to be less. If you drop down to T10, the gap will be even less. Basically, the longer the format, the bigger the gap, that's why we get to see upsets in this format. They are working on their game in these formats. It is a reflection of what these countries have been able to do in the shorter format of the game. They are there in Australia to give surprises. There are already a couple of surprises and I am sure there are going to be more surprises in this tournament.”

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