Mohammed Shami has been in excellent form, but will he retain his place in the XI when Pandya is fit? Aakash Chopra weighs in on the debate.

Mohammed Shami’s exceptional performance, securing 5 for 54 in India’s recent game against New Zealand, has sparked a selection debate. With Virat Kohli’s crucial 95 leading India to a four-wicket victory in Dharamsala, attention now turns to whether Shami will retain his spot in the XI when the all-rounder Hardik Pandya returns from injury.

Shami, who was sidelined for the first four matches of the tournament, was drafted into the playing XI. This move came in after Hardik Pandya suffered an ankle injury against Bangladesh on October 19. This forced Shardul Thakur to make way for Shami.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra expressed his delight with Shami’s performance. He advocated for the veteran pacer to continue in the XI for upcoming matches.

“I’ve been saying from the beginning that Shami deserves a spot in the playing XI. Unfortunately, Hardik Pandya’s injury led to an unexpected situation, and Mohammed Shami had to step in. In his first tournament match, Shami impressed by taking five wickets,” Aakash Chopra said on JioCinema.

“Shami delivered a performance similar to what he did against Australia in Mohali on a challenging pitch. His statistics in Mohali and Dharamsala are remarkably alike. His accuracy is impressive, and his wrist position is so good,” he added.

Shami’s stellar entry into the World Cup 2023 saw him claim a wicket on the very first ball, dismissing Will Young at 17 in the 9th over of the innings. While New Zealand dominated the middle overs with a 159-run partnership between Daryl Mitchell and Rachin Ravindra, Shami’s crucial breakthroughs ensured they didn’t amass a formidable total.

Aakash Chopra highlighted Shami’s pivotal role in restricting New Zealand to only 54 runs in the last 10 overs.

“Shami’s five-wicket haul is the main reason they didn’t reach the 300-plus mark. His effort deserves praise,” he further added.

As the cricket fraternity celebrates Shami’s remarkable comeback, the lingering question remains whether he will secure a permanent spot in the XI once Hardik Pandya recovers from his injury. The upcoming clash against England on September 29 will likely provide insights into India’s selection strategy for the remainder of the World Cup.