IND vs AFG – Asia Cup 2022 – ‘Mohammed Shami sitting at home and cooling his heels baffles me’

Where is Mohammed Shami and “why is he cooling his heels at home” instead of at the Asian Cup?

These are questions that former head coach Ravi Shastri has asked Indian team management after their second consecutive loss in the Super 4s. On Tuesday, India failed to defend 173 in a final loss to Sri Lanka. Two days before that, they were unable to defend 181 against Pakistan.

Shastri’s questions mainly stem from India entering the tournament with only three specialized fast bowlers. Heading into the Super 4s, an illness from Avesh Khan meant India only had to field two specialist seamen in Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Arshdeep Singh, with all-rounder Hardik Pandya as the third seam option.
India could have called Deepak Chahar into the roster as the fast bowler was training with the team in Dubai, but instead opted to wait for Avesh’s condition. Their two consecutive defeats nearly eliminated them from the final, leaving them heavily reliant on other results, with one game remaining against Afghanistan.

“If you have to win, you have to prepare better,” Shastri told Star Sports. “I think the selection could have been better, especially for the fast bowlers. You know the conditions here. There’s not much in it for the spinners. I was quite surprised you came here with only four fast bowlers [including Hardik].

“You needed that extra… Someone like Mohammed Shami sitting at home and cooling his heels baffles me. After the IPL he had, for him not to make the cut is… I clearly see something else.”

Shami finished as the top wicket taker for IPL debutants Gujarat Titans on their march to the title earlier this year. He took 20 wickets, but more importantly in every match (16). His powerplay numbers were particularly impressive. His 11 wickets at this stage were the joint highest with Mukesh Choudhary, while his economy of 6.62 was fifth best of the 14 bowlers who delivered 20 or more overs in the league. At death, however, his economy was 9.63.

Against Sri Lanka, India’s bowling problems stemmed from their inability to pick up wickets beforehand. Sri Lanka’s openers Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis shot 97 in just 11.1 overs to set the tone for their chase. Although spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and R Ashwin brought them back with four quick wickets, Sri Lanka had already covered way too much ground.

“No one ever wants to sit outside,” Shastri said of Shami’s absence. “Of course there is such a thing as workload management. I agree with it to a certain extent, but sometimes I think there are also some downsides in it. I feel that at times when you are in good shape and in great rhythm, you shouldn’t stop playing. Of course sometimes I feel like you have to take a break for recovery. You have to do it smart.”

At this point, Shastri was asked by former Pakistani captain Wasim Akram if a coach could offer his input into team selection. “He does,” replied Shastri, before continuing, “He is not part of the roster. He can contribute by saying ‘this is the combination we want’ and it is up to the captain in the meeting to bring that up.

“When I say planning, there should have been one extra fast bowler. One less spinner in the [squad of] 15-16. You don’t want to get caught in a situation where one guy has a fever and then you have no one else to play. You have to play a different spinner, which can be embarrassing in the end.”

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