Indian cricketers who are part of the 15-member squad for the one-off Test against Afghanistan went through the obligatory Yo-Yo endurance test on Monday (June 11). All the players cleared the fitness hurdle except for the right-arm pacer Mohammed Shami. Consequently, Shami was left out of the squad as Delhi pacer Navdeep Saini replaced him for the historic Test which starts in Bengaluru on Thursday (June 14).
Earlier, the Board of Control for Cricket in India had made it clear that players who do not pass the Yo-Yo obstacle would be snubbed from the team irrespective of his reputation. A benchmark of 16.1 has been prescribed by the BCCI.
While BCCI’s strict fitness standards seem to have come in the way of Shami, it is learnt that the team management is more concerned about getting him in the right frame of mind for the Test matches in England, starting on August 1.
“There is no doubt about his cricketing skills. He is doing fine with it. The team just wants to get him back in shape – in body and mind. He is vital to the team’s prospects in England,” a source close to the team management quoted as saying by TOI.
“We will work out a programme for him and the team management will monitor him constantly. He needs to be engaged in cricket. Once he attains the desired fitness levels, he should be fine to go,” the source said. “The team management has been talking to him and will be spending more time with him and try to help him move on,” he added.
Shami was one of the stars of Indian bowling attack that had taken 60 wickets during the three-match Test series against South Africa earlier this year. The 28-year-old had scalped 15 wickets in that series at an incredible average of 17.06. He was instrumental in India’s victory in the third Test at Wanderers. Owing to Shami’s 5 for 28, India had won the Wanderers Test by 63 runs.
Following the one-off Test against Afghanistan, Team India will fly to Ireland to play two T20Is on June 27 and 29. Subsequently, Virat Kohli and company will head off for the all-important England tour, scheduled to commence on July 3.
Shami has not been picked for the limited-overs leg of the tour of Ireland and England. While the selectors are likely to provide opportunities to the Test specialists during the four-day fixtures between India ‘A’ and England ‘A’, Shami will have nearly three weeks to overcome his flaws. Indian selectors will be in England when the Test team will be announced.