By Kushan Sarkar
New Delhi: The three-member selection committee will be fretting on India‘s bowling combination for the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy with a clear toss-up for the fourth pacer’s slot between Ashish Nehra and Mohammed Shami. The cut-off date set by ICC for announcing the 15-member squad for the Champions Trophy in the United Kingdom is April 25 and it is expected that the squad will be named in the next few days. The date of the selection committee meeting has not been finalised as some in the BCCI want the ICC issues pertaining to revenue sharing and governance to be resolved first. Laxman: Dhawan, Rohit right players to open for IND in ICC Champions Trophy 2017
While Ravichandran Ashwin is expected to start his training next week and, along with Ravindra Jadeja, looks an automatic selection in the spin department, it will be the fifth member of the pace attack who will need some discussion. Ashwin will get into the groove playing the two warm-up games when India land in the United Kingdom. Death-overs specialist Jasprit Bumrah, swing bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar and speed merchant Umesh Yadav are certainties in the squad of 15 subject to fitness.
So is Hardik Pandya, who will be there as the pace bowling all-rounder. This leaves one slot in the pace department for which there are two contenders — Mohammed Shami and Ashish Nehra. While Shami has been a potent bowler for India in Test format, the last time he played an ODI match was during the World Cup semi-final against Australia at Sydney, back in 2015.
In case of Nehra, it was even further back during the 2011 World Cup semi-final but the veteran left-arm pacer has since made another comeback in 2016 in the shortest format, where he has been quite a success. But there is a slight catch over here. According to top BCCI officials, skipper Virat Kohli wants Nehra to be a part of the bowling attack. His vast knowledge is a big help for the younger pacers, not to forget his brilliant match-reading ability.
In fact, Nehra played Vijay Hazare Trophy for Delhi and he remains a serious contender to be picked for the 50-over event. Of late, he has missed a few games for Sunrisers due to neck spasm and is expected to be fit by next week. Shami, on the other hand, has also not been picked regularly by his franchise Delhi Daredevils, which would have allowed Prasad and his colleagues to have a closer look at his current form.
There is a school of thought that only one among Umesh and Shami can be taken as both are similar — primarily outswing bowlers. Umesh, after a tremendous Test season and a moderately good IPL till now, has clinched his case. One shouldn’t be surprised if young Basil Thampi is kept on standby, having impressed one and all with his ability to bowl yorkers at will during the death overs. From Sunil Gavaskar to Dwayne Bravo, everyone has rated the Kerala speedster very highly.