Former chief selector Kiran More has said that Mohammed Shami should be included in India's 2022 Asia Cup squad despite his long absence from the team.
More told Start Sports that while Hardik Pandya was an important all-rounder option, Shami was a “must” in the XI as a fast bowler.
“Shami must go for the World Cup, I still say that. Rahul Dravid has this process, he likes to have back-ups. If a bowler gets injured, someone like Avesh Khan can be useful in the World Cup," More said.
"I don't know what is the extent of Bumrah's injury, but come the World Cup, and Bumrah (if fit) and Shami will definitely go to World Cup."
Shami has not played for the Indian T20I team since last year's World Cup last. While he delivered consistently good performances for Gujarat Titans during their campaign in the 2022 Indian Premier League (IPL), Shami has remained excluded from the T20I squad so far.
“The way Hardik made his comeback was impressive. He's now bowling 140+. A captain wants a player like that -- who can score runs, take wickets, and be alert on the field," More said.
"But I also want to say one thing -- this team won't go into the World Cup until Mohammed Shami comes into the side. These are back-ups who are travelling there, as preparation for the World Cup."
Shami being sidelined in favour of Avesh Khan despite having excellent IPL seasons for the last three years has received criticism from both fans and experts. Indian cricket commentator Aakash Chopra said that Shami was a better choice than Khan.
“Why everybody has forgotten about Mohammed Shami is beyond me. He has performed well, his IPL numbers are great. I think if it was a race between Avesh Khan and Mohammed Shami, I will go with Mohammed Shami with my eyes closed,” Chopra said.
“Nothing against Avesh, but I feel that Shami should have been given a chance with the new ball in the absence of a Jasprit Bumrah. I have nothing against Ravi Bishnoi, but why not Kuldeep Yadav.”
Padmaja Srivatsan from Indiesport also wrote that the absence of Shami could hurt the India squad. The 31-year-old has played 17 T20I matches for India, claiming 18 wickets at an average of 31.56. He said the team could go all-out with their offensive with Shami on board. In his absence, India only has one power play specialist, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Shami was also in good form throughout his stint in IPL 2022, dismissing most openers. He had an economy rate of 8 runs per over.
Srivatsan also said that Shami was good in death overs, especially since Shami was the designated death bowler for Punjab Kings for two years. Throughout 2019-2020, he managed to claim 25 wickets. He took 19 and 20 wickets for the Kings and became the side’s leading wicket-taker.
Since IPL 2022, Shami has scored 14 death-over wickets, which is equal to Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, and Mohammed Siraj combined.