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India will face New Zealand in the final of the inaugural World Test Championship from June 18-22 in Southampton.
As the event approaches, the Indians will have a selection headache as it will be difficult to pick five bowlers from a group of talented guys.
In the recent past, many bowlers including Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, Washington Sundar and many others have performed exceptionally well in the purest format of the game for India.
Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj are probably fighting for two places, while Jasprit Bumrah is the assured start in the rhythm area. Locations in England are known to favor crimpers. However, India will likely go with two spinners and three pointers, as the inclusion of Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will bolster the Indian attack.
Fans and voices in the cricket world believe that Siraj’s emergence and promise poses a threat to Sharma and not Shami as a potential newcomer in India’s premier test attack for the conditions foreigners. It wasn’t Shami but Sharma that wider cricket fans on social media thought could lose his place in favor of fit Mohammed Siraj.
Ishant Sharma on his last two test tours in England has 32 wickets of eight tests at an average of 25.56. Mohammad Shami of 2014 and 2018 has 21 wickets of eight tests at a disappointing average of 47.04 per wicket.
Since the 2014-15 Australia tour ended, Ishant Sharma has been magnificent for India, with 95 wickets as of 25.07. In just one country, which happens to be India, does it score an average of 36.33 against non-Bangladeshi opposition. He averages 23.81 in Australia, 24.27 in England, 18.75 in South Africa, 23.23 in Sri Lanka, 20.63 in the West Indies and 15.20 in New Zealand.
All of this means that Sharma is averaging under 30 during that time which is great.
Sharma has been one of India’s most threatening options up front with the new ball, especially against lefties. New Zealand have two like Tom Latham and Henry Nicholls or maybe even three if they face Devon Conway. So maybe they have three in the top six of their batting lineup. As such, Sharma’s place is hard to question.
Shami is a world-class fast bowler who is rarely questioned and rarely criticized. He’s more stuck in the Indian Test XI than even Sharma, but there’s still a huge difference between his bowling averages in the first and second innings – 38.76 in the first innings to 19.22 in the second, often a statistic that goes against him in away tests over the past three years.
In the 2018 series in England, in conditions that couldn’t be more suited to stimulators, he was poor in the opening rounds, when most of the test matches are decided. He had an average of 37.66 for just nine wickets with a savings of 3.36. Shami finished the five-game series with an average of 38.87 when the other bowlers were successful.
Shami is helpful to some extent when the tracks deteriorate in the second half of the game – he walks into the games and adds scalps to his bag, but those wickets only help him improve his numbers, they don’t help. not the cause of India. He is found missing a much more meaningful first half ending.
Shami and Sharma have been an integral part of India’s test bowling attack for the past three years and Siraj’s opportunity in Australia would not have come if all three rapids were available. However, Siraj took his chance and brings with him a wide range of skills. His swing, seams, leg cutters and reverse swing come naturally to him and, with the addition of the outswinger, make him a powerful threat to the opposition.
During his short career, in terms of sheer skill, Siraj has shown greater ropes to his arsenal. Despite his unorthodox and mildly rebellious action, he appeared in control as he played trial cricket against high quality batsmen. Joe Root’s set-up on a wicket in Ahmedabad and the wider release point he used to fire Marnus Labuschagne in Australia speak of a thinking bowler truly aware of his skills and having the ability to execute them at the perfection.
With Jasprit Bumrah as the assured starter, you must be wondering why it is Siraj against Sharma heading to the WTC final and not Siraj against Shami for the role of third paceman against New Zealand. Siraj offers a more exciting option that the Kiwis haven’t seen much. The fast bowler also climbs a ridge early in his career.
The World Testing Championship final could be a huge test for Siraj, but he’s already shown he can step onto the big stage.