Aakash Chopra has backed experienced fast bowler Mohammed Shami over all-rounder Shardul Thakur for the first ODI against Australia in Mohali on Friday. Chopra reckons that with Mohali expected to be a batting-friendly surface, India will need five frontline bowlers in the playing XI.
The Men in Blue preferred Thakur in the playing XI ahead of Shami during the Asia Cup even though Hardik Pandya was also part of the squad as the main all-rounder. Pandya has been rested for the first two ODIs of the three-match series against Australia.
Speaking on his YouTube channel, Chopra shared his thoughts [7:15] on the Thakur vs Shami debate for the opening ODI. He made his preference clear and opined:
“I feel Shami should play without any doubt. When you play on a very flat pitch, batting generally tends to cancel each other out. Both sides have good batting line-ups. You might not need the No. 9. You will have [Ravichandran] Ashwin or [Washington] Sundar at No. 8. At least at No. 9, play a proper bowler."
Elaborating on his thoughts, Chopra stated that in case Tilak Varma does not feature in the top six, India will only be left with five bowling options.
“I am not saying that Shardul is not a proper bowler, but play Shami, Siraj, Bumrah - go with your three proper fast bowlers. If this is a 325-350 pitch, you will need bowlers. If you don’t play Tilak Varma, which is a possibility, then you won’t have the sixth bowling option. You need five bowlers, who do not have a chance of having a bad day. If they have a bad spell, they can actually bounce back," the 46-year-old explained.
“I expect Shami to do that a little more. I have lesser hopes from Shardul in that aspect. I will go with Shami, Siraj, Bumrah,” Chopra concluded.
Shami played two matches during India’s Asia Cup campaign, claiming 1/29 against Nepal and 2/32 versus Bangladesh.
Aakash Chopra’s predicted XI for 1st IND vs AUS ODI
Chopra picked Shreyas Iyer as his No. 3 batter for the first ODI against Australia in Mohali [8:25]. He also backed Ashwin to make the playing XI ahead of Sundar.
Aakash Chopra’s likely XI: Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan, Shreyas Iyer, Tilak Varma, KL Rahul (c & wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj.