Mohammed Shami, the Indian pacer who has been out of action since the last World Cup due to knee and hamstring injuries, is likely to return to national colours, during India’s practice game against West Indies at the Eden Gardens on Thursday.
Shami, who was India’s joint highest wicket taker in the last 50-overs World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, has recently struggled to regain his fitness. After World Cup, he had a surgery on his troubled knee and spent 30 days at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru for his rehab. During this period he worked on his fitness under the watchful eyes of Andrew Leipus, the former Indian team physio, who is currently the Chief Physiotherapist at the academy.
In January this year, Shami was declared fit by NCA and was picked in the India’s limited-overs side for the tour of Australia. But just after reaching Australia, the 25-year old Bengal speedstar pulled a hamstring and was immediately sent back to India. He missed the home series against Sri Lanka and the recently concluded Asia Cup in Bangladesh as well.
The BCCI sent Leipus to Kolkata to specifically work with Shami on his fitness. The Indian team management wanted him to get back into his groove ahead of the World T20 and it seems the pacer has managed to do that.
Shami was at his full flow during India’s net session at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday. He bowled an extended spell and his rhythm looked quite all right. The pacer was bowling against the likes of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh. Shami managed to get past their bats a few times.
In the pre-match press conference, Indian team director Ravi Shastri also made it clear that Shami will feature in the side during India’s the two warm-up games against West Indies and South Africa on March 10 and 12 respectively.
“He’s in the side and obviously he will play,” Shastri was quoted saying while answering to a question regarding the availability of Shami.
Meanwhile, with Ashish Nehra and Jashprit Bumrah doing well in recent games, it will be hard for Shami to get into the playing eleven when India will be playing the main round matches in the World T20. However, despite this, a fit Shami in the squad will provide the Indian bowling department an important back-up.
(Sandipan Banerjee is a Senior Correspondent at Cricwizz.com)