Former India pacer Zaheer Khan believes that Mohammed Shami could be the “X-factor” in India’s bowling attack for the T20 World Cup 2024 in June, which will be played in the USA and the West Indies.
Even though Mohammed Shami has not played a T20I since the T20 World Cup 2022 semi-final exit against England in Adelaide, the senior fast bowler was in sensational form in the last IPL season, winning the Purple Cap, and the upcoming IPL season will decide whether he gets in the squad.
Given his vast experience and the struggles of the fringe bowlers even against Afghanistan and a second-string Australian team, it is likely that only a decent IPL 2024 season for Shami would see him sneak into India’s T20 World Cup squad.
If Shami is fit and available, he can be an X-factor: Zaheer Khan
Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj are a lock in the squad, and Arshdeep Singh, being a left-hander who can bowl well with both new ball and old ball, is likely to be picked in the squad. Zaheer Khan reckons Shami would be the fourth pacer in the squad, while Hardik Pandya and/or Shivam Dube the pace-bowling all-rounders.
Speaking on Colors Cineple Zaheer Khan said, “I feel you will see (Jasprit) Bumrah and (Mohammed) Siraj for sure. After that, Arshdeep (Singh), you will get a slight variation because he is a left-armer. He bowls good yorkers. So that is an added advantage. Then I believe (Mohammed) Shami because if he is fit and available, he can be an X-factor option for you during the World Cup. So I will pick these four pacers because four pacers should go for sure,” Zaheer said.
Mohammed Shami was in thunderous form during the World Cup 2023. He finished as the tournament’s leading wicket-taker despite not playing in India’s first four games. However, he played the tournament with ankle pain and his injury got worse, so he’s been out of action since then.
Shami has not been picked in the squad for the first two Tests against England. He is eyeing a comeback from the third Test. But with the IPL and the T20 World Cup to follow, the BCCI and the NCA medical team would be wary of rushing him back, especially if India start the series on a winning note in the first two Tests.