Although they may be at different ends of their respective career arcs, the efforts of Arshdeep Singh and Mohammed Shami look crucial in India’s push for the T20 World Cup trophy.
After the disappointment of the 2021 campaign, which he was certain would be introspective, the best Indians have spent most of their time fine-tuning their T20 gear.
Whether through several international bilateral series, or impressing at the IPL, dozens have blossomed in the auditions. It would never be a problem finding eleven world-class players to make up the squad – the bigger problem would be finding those who started at the right time, in pace, and most likely to meet stratospheric expectations.
The selectors and coaches were clear with a ‘win now’ mentality, and that meant no player should ever be left out. The international revival of Dinesh Karthik epitomizes this, earning a place in the T20 World Cup squad amid a purple patch playing, regardless of other professional endeavors, to give insight on The ICC Reviewto various television commentary passages.
Although what seems more encouraging is the depth of the bowling stocks. While a former statesman in the squad, Mohammad Shami was only brought into the squad at the eleventh hour after Jasprit Bumrah was injured before the event. Channeling his experience from Australia, with subtle variations keeping opposing hitters on their toes, Shami was able to get going.
By contrast, 23-year-old Arshdeep Singh is a fresher face in the group, although he belied world tournament experience with his dazzling first impression at the T20 World Cup. The left hander claimed Babar Azam lbw with his first delivery in the event, before pulling Mohammad Rizwan out on his next over, extracting the rebound at the MCG and finding the top edge of the wicketkeeper’s bat / hitter. He came back to pepper Asif Ali as well, catching the right-hander off guard with another short ball, leading to a simple catch for Karthik. Suddenly, Arshdeep’s name seems a certainty on future team rosters.
Overlooking the bowling attack is former India international Paras Mhambrey. On duty to help his compatriots deliver T20 World Cup glory to 1.4 billion people, Mhambrey is full of praise for the group, and in particular the two men who had to find their feet quickly .
Speaking ahead of India’s clash with the Netherlands, Mhambrey spoke at length about the group, starting with Shami’s performance not only as a man entering the fray but also recovering from Covid more early in the month.
“Look, in his case, he’s a very experienced, very seasoned bowler.”
“You know what you’re going to get from him, that was for sure, but the important thing was how he performed after COVID, and we were pretty happy with the recovery.”
With Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Arshdeep mostly moving the ball in the same direction, Shami’s aim for subtle variations out of the box provides a point of difference.
“He was looking forward to this tournament and started with the first over he played in Australia,” Mhambrey continued.
“He looked very rhythmic, and I think that also gave us the confidence to know what you’re going to get from Shami. But he’s a champion bowler, no doubt.”
There is no doubt that the high stakes and high level of the IPL have helped young Arshdeep’s mentality, and the 13 T20 international appearances ahead of the T20 World Cup seem to have hardened his left arm for more telling tests.
“I think the one thing that really stands out with this kid is his ability to handle pressure,” Mhambrey began on Arshdeep.
“He does two different phases in the format he plays, which is the first power play and the kills. The composure he shows, the clarity of thought process he shows, he’s a great boy.
“The quality he showed with the way he came on and his ability to handle pressure is phenomenal, and I think I’m not really surprised with the way he played in the first game.”
Although a deserving inclusion on merit alone, Arshdeep is a band sponge according to Mhambrey, yearning to learn the lessons of which there are many around him in the band.
“He’s the type of guy who likes to talk a lot and he chats with the seniors, and I’ve seen him chat a lot with Bhuvi (Kumar) and Shami as well, because those guys have played here.
“So the kind of learning that he takes, he tries to implement that into a game. Obviously having a conversation and understanding what’s required, but being able to go out there and execute it and do it yourself as individual skills come into play. In that sense, I give him credit.”
Mhambrey has confirmed that the whole squad is available for the game against the Netherlands, quashing injury rumors in the Indian side after their incredible win on Sunday.
With a busy schedule in the coming days, Mhambrey said players are being offered optional training to improve and have no plans to rest players at certain stages of the event.
“Before the game, we always let the bowlers decide how hard they want to work.”
“I think we’re pretty thoughtful in terms of planning, how we want to go about it, and I think from now on, every session that we have left is optional, so in terms of maintenance, in terms of the physiotherapy, it’s important to have them in the best shape possible in every game.”
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