Debashis Sarangi ∙ Oct 15 2022, 6:45 AM

#Unpopular Opinion: Siraj would've been better than Shami to replace Bumrah

image-l99gdf12Mohd Siraj and Mohd Shami (PC: Twitter)

India suffered a massive setback just before the T20 World Cup, as their most potent bowling weapon Jasprit Bumrah was ruled out of the showpiece event owing to a stress reaction. However, India announced Mohammed Shami as the replacement for Bumrah yesterday on the expected lines. 

The reason is quite simple. Shami has ample bowling experience in Australia; he can use the new ball ideally and hit the deck with a decent pace. But the question remains: Why did Shami not play a single T20I after the 2021 World Cup if he was the first-choice replacement for someone like Bumrah? And what wrong did Mohammed Siraj do to not be in the 15-member squad? 

In my honest opinion, Siraj deserved to be in the main squad, as he brings more value to the table than Shami in a T20 team. 

What goes against Shami?

The primary thing that goes against Shami is the lack of match practice. The veteran pacer hasn't played a single T20I since the World Cup last year. Although he was included in India's squad for the home series against South Africa and Australia, an unfortunate COVID illness ruled him out of both tours. 

No matter how experienced a player is, he needs some game time to find his rhythm before a crucial tournament like the World Cup. And as it stands, Siraj was more prepared than Shami, as he was exposed to a robust Proteas batting unit and performed up to the mark on batting-friendly decks. 

Shami vs Siraj: Comparison in death overs

In Bumrah's absence, India primarily needed a bowler who could assist Arshdeep Singh in the death overs. So, let's compare the performances of Shami and Siraj in death overs in the last two years. 

Mohammed Shami in 16-20 overs since 2021: Economy: 10.02, Balls per boundary: 4.5

Mohammed Siraj in 16-20 overs since 2021: Economy: 9.83, Balls per boundary: 4.5

These stats suggest Siraj has recorded a better economy than Shami in the slog overs in this period. Although they have taken the same number of deliveries to concede a boundary, Shami has been hit for a six in every 10.95 balls compared to Siraj's 12. This indicates Siraj has been a little tougher for the batters to hit sixes against. 

Also, the seamer from Hyderabad was a force to reckon with the ball in IPL 2021, as he executed his yorkers at will, even against beasts like Andre Russell. Although he went for a few runs in the IPL 2022, he performed exceptionally well in the recently concluded series against South Africa on placid decks.

The Conclusion

Considering their skills, Shami and Siraj are similar bowlers, being immensely valuable with the new ball and supportive towards the back end. But if a team is going to play a World Cup, its management should prefer physically and mentally fit players. 

Now, lets' think about the scenario from Shami's perspective. He has just recovered from COVID and hasn't played a single T20I since the last year. So if he is suddenly asked to perform in a high-pressure encounter against Pakistan, won't it be harsh on him? It definitely will be. 

Therefore, I feel India should have stuck to Siraj. But having said that, I, as an Indian fan, would like Shami to prove me wrong, of course, for the sake of the Indian team. 

Also Read: What if... India win the T20 World Cup?