India quick Mohammed Shami has been left out of the squad for the Afghanistan Test in Bengaluru after failing a fitness test at National Cricket Academy (NCA). It is understood Shami has a hamstring issue in the right leg and it was decided to rest him keeping in mind the five-Test series in England which starts in August. Uncapped fast bowler Navdeep Saini, who was the highest wicket-taker for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy with 34 wickets in eight games, has been picked as a like-for-like replacement.
Shami tested his hamstring while bowling in the nets on the first day of India’s training sessions ahead of the Afghanistan Test. It is not yet clear whether the decision to drop him from the squad was taken after Monday’s training.
Shami had been hampered by the niggles right through the IPL, where he played for Delhi Daredevils. ESPNcricinfo understands that Shami played the first three matches with some niggles and, though he was not 100% match fit, played Daredevils’ fourth game but struggled once again for rhythm. Once the coaching staff noticed that Shami could not even run properly during training sessions, it was decided to not play Shami for the rest of the IPL.
He has been at the NCA in Bengaluru undergoing rehab. Reportedly, he also underwent yo-yo tests, a mandatory process for selection, though the results of these tests could not be confirmed. To clear them, Shami would have had to meet the 16:1 mark set by the Indian team.
After the IPL, Shami was named as a replacement for allrounder Hardik Pandya in the World XI squad for the charity T20I match against West Indies at Lord’s on May 31, but did not turn up for the match.
Saini consistently generated speeds upwards of 140kph in the Ranji Trophy – two such thunderbolts dismissed Aamir Gani and B Amit off successive deliveries in the semi-final against Bengal in Pune. He claimed seven wickets in the match and bowled Delhi into the final. He then picked up eight wickets in six matches in the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy at an economy rate of 5.13. He was subsequently picked for the Deodhar Trophy and the Irani Cup.
More recently, Saini was named in the India A squad to tour England for a four-day match from July 16. Saini did not get a game for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, but the franchise’s bowling coach Ashish Nehra rates him highly.
Updated India squad: Ajinkya Rahane (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, M Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Karun Nair, Dinesh Karthik (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Shardul Thakur (ESPNCricinfo)