Mohammed Shami was India’s opening bowler in the semi-final against Australia in the 2015 World Cup in Sydney. The pacer had gone wicketless in that game. Four years later, he had a great opportunity of mending history at Old Trafford when India played New Zealand in yet another World Cup semi-final clash. But to the surprise of many fans and experts, Shami was overlooked. Bhuvneshwar Kumar opened the Indian bowling along with the ever-lethal Jasprit Bumrah while Ravindra Jadeja and Yuzvendra Chahal shouldered the spinning responsibilities.
Shami warmed the reserve bench in the initial phase of the tournament and came into the playing XI only after Bhuvneshwar had a hamstring injury in the clash against Pakistan. He made a massive entry into the fray with a four-wicket burst against Afghanistan that even included a hat-trick. He took another four-wicket haul in the vert next game against the West Indies and in the game after, he took a fifer against the powerful England batting.
However, the 28-year-old batsman also went for some runs in the matches against England and Bangladesh (1 for 68) and that saw him getting overlooked for the inconsequential game against Sri Lanka. While his omission against the Lankans in an academic game was still understandable, his fans were not ready to accept that he was overlooked even for the high-voltage semi-final against the Black Caps.
Shami’s coach Badruddin Siddique was livid with the Indian team management’s decision to not include him in the XI despite him taking 14 wickets in just four games. It also nullified the belief that Shami was rested in the game against the Lankans to allow himself to re-energise.
“Stunned. How can you drop someone after he has picked 14 wickets for you in four games? What more do you expect out of your fast bowlers? I thought the rest in the Lanka game was an attempt to keep him fresh for the knockouts. Clearly, my assessment was wrong,” NDTV Sports cited reports as quoting Siddique.
Shami went for runs against Bangladesh at Edgbaston on July 2 when the Tigers’ lower order took him to the cleaners. Playing as the third seamer after Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah, Shami went for 68 runs in nine overs and would have bowled the final over had Bumrah not polished off the Bangladeshi tail.
‘Can’t bank on Shami or Bhuvi for batting’
“Really? If you have to bank on Shami or Bhuvi for batting, I think we are anyway losing the game. To be fair, if the top six cannot do the job, the remaining will not either. His role is to win games with the ball and I think he has proved himself despite not being given a start to begin with in the tournament.”