India will leave for the World Cup without their 15th player |

India will leave for the World Cup without their 15th player |

Uncertainty surrounding Shami’s physical condition forced BCCI to delay appointing a replacement for Bumrah

In less than 24 hours, the Indian team will depart for the T20 WC in Australia with around 18 players in the squad, but without the team’s official 15th player. National selectors and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) are set to postpone the announcement of a replacement for Jasprit Bumrah, who was recently dropped from the tournament.

The situation is due to uncertainty over the suitability of Mohammed Shami, Bumrah’s designated replacement. Cricbuzz has learned that the BCCI, selectors and team management have decided to await the progress of the veteran pacer, who is emerging from a Covid-19 virus bout.

Although Shami has shown an improvement in his fitness lately in the nets, all concerned want to be sure of his preparation for the championship from October 16 to November 13. The pacer has now been invited to appear at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru.

Head Coach Rahul Dravid on Mohammed Shami: “We’ll take a look. We’ve had time since October 15… Shami is obviously someone who’s on hold. Unfortunately for us, he couldn’t play in this series. It would’ve been ideal from that perspective, but he’s in the National Cricket Academy right now. We need to get reports on how he is recovering and what his status is after 14-15 days of covid, and we will take a call. Once I have a report on how he is feeling, then obviously we can really take a call on how to move forward.”

Needless to point out that the NCA medical team will assess his physical condition and report back to the BCCI before a final decision is made. The BCCI, it is learned, will wait until October 15, when the full squad must be announced under ICC rules. If Shami is declared fit, the veteran pacer will join the Indian team in Australia later. India’s first match in the World Cup is against Pakistan at the MCG on October 23.

In the unexpected event that Shami fails to meet the required fitness levels, Mohammed Siraj and Deepak Chahar will step into the action. Before naming either, the selectors will also have the benefit of watching them in all three ODIs against the visiting South African side over the next seven days. Siraj and Chahar, who featured in the three-game T20 series, were named to the 16-member squad led by Shikhar Dhawan. In an ideal situation, the coaches would have wanted Shami to feature in the ODIs as well, but that didn’t happen due to his Covid situation.

The three ODIs are October 6 (Lucknow), October 9 (Ranchi) and October 11 (Delhi).

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