Ind vs SA – 3rd T20I

Shami last played a T20I at last year’s T20 World Cup in the UAE, and his chance of getting playing time ahead of this year’s tournament disappeared when he tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of the three-game streak against Australia last month. He missed both that series and the three T20Is against South Africa that followed, and is currently in Bengaluru, where his fitness is assessed by the National Cricket Academy (NCA).

“In terms of who the replacement is, we’ll see, we’ll see, we have time until October 15,” Dravid said at a press conference after the third T20I against South Africa in Indore on Tuesday night. “Shami is clearly someone on standby, but unfortunately for us he couldn’t play this series, which would have been ideal from that perspective.

“He’s in the NCA right now – we’ll need to get reports on how he’s recovering, and what his status is after 14-15 days of Covid, and we’ll get a call as soon as I have reports on how he’s feeling, then we can we answer a call and the voters can answer a call about how to proceed.”

“We need to bring in someone who has experience, who has bowled in Australia, and see what he has to offer.”

Rohit on Bumrah’s replacement

Rohit, meanwhile, suggested during the post-match presentation that India would be looking for a bowler with experience in Australian conditions.

“We need to bring in someone who has experience, who has bowled in Australia, and see what he has to offer,” Rohit said. “I don’t know who that man is yet. There are a few guys who qualify, but we will call them as soon as we reach Australia.”

Shami has been part of several tours of Australia and was involved in two Test series wins and an ODI World Cup in which he was one of the leading wicket takers.

However, he has only played one T20I in the country, although it is unlikely to count against him in a head-to-head shootout with Chahar, who has only played three T20Is in Australia and no international matches in the other formats.

Shami also scores above other contenders in other respects. Real pace is a quality the Indian squad lacks in Bumrah’s absence – Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh and Harshal Patel have different individual strengths, but all three can be roughly classified as medium fast bowlers. Chahar is a similar bowler to Bhuvneshwar, a swing bowler whose greatest strength is in power play.

Shami’s biggest impact over the past IPL seasons has also come into power play; he was the joint leading wicket-taker at this stage during the 2022 season, with 11 wickets remaining at an average of 24.09 with an economy rate of 6.62. But with his extra pace and ability to hit the deck hard, he scores above Chahar in other stages.

Chahar’s only significant advantage over Shami – other than having played T20Is for the past few months – is with the bat. He showed this on Tuesday night, contributing 31 of the 17 balls in a spirited performance from the lower order of India, which also included cameos from Harshal and Umesh Yadav.

With no real comparable substitute available for Bumrah – a true all-condition, all-phase operator – there is a chance that India will pick a bowler who will increase their depth of strike, allowing them to try to make up for what they lose with the ball by hitting doubling down on the aggressive hitting approach they’ve been adopting in recent months.

In a pitch-side interview with star sport after the Indore T20I, Dravid had noticed the depth of strike in India became a more aggressive side with the bat.

“We made a decision after the last T20 World Cup, sat down with the group, sat down with Rohit and we deliberately tried to be more positive,” said Dravid. “We believe we have the quality of batsmanship that allows us to be positive and play a little bit more aggressively.

“And it also means we have to structure our squads a little bit around the fact that we also have to try to have a little bit more depth of strike.”

He also praised Indore’s lower order batters’ display, although India ultimately fell far short of their 228 goal.

“I was really happy with the fact that we kept going, we kept hitting hard, we stayed positive – even lower in the order, just to see Harshal and Deepak, these guys too, hit a few shots in front of us,” said Dravid. “Really good signs knowing we have people in the lower echelons who can make those clutch hits, if we need them, in some of the other games.”

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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