IND vs SL 2023: 3 reasons why the 3rd ODI is crucial for Mohammed Shami 

Team India senior bowler Mohammed Shami [Pic Credit: BCCI]
Team India senior bowler Mohammed Shami [Pic Credit: BCCI]

Senior Team India pacer Mohammed Shami will be under pressure when the Men in Blue take on Sri Lanka in the third ODI at the Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday, January 15.

The Men in Blue have already won the three-match series after winning the first two ODIs in Guwahati and Kolkata, respectively.

Spearheading India's bowling attack in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, Shami hasn't looked convincing in the ongoing series. It's worth mentioning that he has made a return to the team after getting sidelined due to a shoulder injury, which also kept him out of the Bangladesh series in December of 2022.

Splendid team performance tonight! Congratulations to the entire team on winning the series #mdshami11 #mdshami #bcci #MenInBlue

While Shami is India's most experienced bowler in the format (153 wickets across 83 innings), we look at three reasons why the decider against the Lankans in Rajkot will be crucial for him.

#1 His recent form has been mediocre

Mohammed Shami in action during the second ODI [Pic Credit: BCCI]
Mohammed Shami in action during the second ODI [Pic Credit: BCCI]

Given Mohammed Shami has nearly scalped 400 international wickets, it won't be an overstatement to say that he has underperformed largely in the ongoing ODI series against Sri Lanka.

After ending the 2022 T20 World Cup campaign with poor figures of 0/39 (in 3 overs) in the semi-final against England, Shami was ruled out of the Bangladesh series.

However, the two ODIs he has played following his return have shown that Shami is far from his best right now. While the 32-year-old did pick up a wicket in the first ODI in Guwahati, he gave away 67 runs across nine overs during that game. What's more concerning is that seven of Shami's nine overs in the innings leaked at least one boundary.

In the following game, when the Men in Blue bundled out Sri Lanka for a below-par score of 217, Shami wasn't able to do any damage. In contrast to the first game, Shami started off well with the new ball in Kolkata. He brought out the outswinger and beat the bat on a number of occasions but wasn't able to get the elusive nick.

The veteran was taken for runs in his second spell as he ended up conceding 43 runs in his seven overs. In Bumrah's absence, Shami was expected to lead the Indian pace attack. However, the fast bowler has looked out of rhythm in the first two games of the series.

#2 His pace counterparts have been phenomenal lately

Mohammed Siraj and Umran Malik have been in top form for India.
Mohammed Siraj and Umran Malik have been in top form for India.

While Shami has been mediocre in the ongoing Sri Lankan series, his partners in Mohammed Siraj and Umran Malik have been extremely proficient with the ball.

Both Siraj and Umran have been the wreckers-in-chief for India for some time now, and have translated their form into the ongoing series as well. Both right-arm speedsters are currently the joint-highest wicket-takers with five scalps each in the ODI series against Sri Lanka.

Mohammad Siraj has been magical.

Moreover, the gulf between the bowling strike rates among Siraj, Umran and Shami has been massive. If Siraj and Umran have taken a wicket in every 15.2 and 18 balls, respectively, Shami's strike rate of 96 is a matter of concern.

#3 He might get dropped from the squad for the NZ ODIs

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If Shami once again fails to deliver in the third ODI in Trivandrum on Sunday, Team India might consider dropping him in the upcoming ODI series against New Zealand.

On Friday night (January 13), the BCCI announced the Indian squad for the three-match ODI series against the Kiwis, which will begin on Wednesday (January 18). While Shami is part of the 50-over roster, his place is still not certain for the opening encounter.

Although Arshdeep Singh, the fourth-choice pacer in the current ODI team, has not been picked for the New Zealand ODIs, Shardul Thakur has received a call-up.

Thakur, who also adds value to the team with his batting, may partner Siraj and Umran against the Black Caps if Shami doesn't finish the Sri Lankan series on a promising note.

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Edited by Ritwik Kumar
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