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How Shami and Siraj make a solid new-ball pair for India in ODIs?

How Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj make a solid new-ball pair for India in ODIs? Shami has highest ODI wickets (68) since Mohammed Siraj's debut in January 2019 for India.

Mohammed Siraj is called up for as Jasprit Bumrah's replacement for rest of the T20I against South Africa _ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©BCCI/Twitter)
Siraj-Shami makes a solid new-ball pair for India in ODIs (Photo: ©BCCI/Twitter)

In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah who is out due to back injury, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj are turning up as the one of the best new-ball pairs for India in ODIs. With the 2023 ODI World Cup only around 6 months away, Shami-Siraj pair is crucial for India’s success in the tournament.


Shami the best, but Siraj not far behind

Since Siraj’s ODI debut in January 2019, Shami has been the leading wicket-taker for India in ODIs with 68 wickets. And surprisingly, it is not Siraj or Bumrah, but Shardul Thakur who is second in the list with 44 wickets. Bumrah comes next with 43 scalps followed by Siraj with 43 wickets as well. While Shardul’s presence in the ODI XI is doubtful as Hardik Pandya is a like-for-like player and Shardul mostly bowls in the middle overs, Shami-Siraj is the new-ball pair that India are targeting for the ODI World Cup.


Shami’s experience of 162 wickets in 90 ODIs, and the emergence of Siraj as a strike bowler in the powerplay make the two an ideal new-ball pair for India. Siraj’s average of 20.72 – the best among top wicket-takers for India since his ODI debut - shows he has been one of the emerging ODI bowlers in the world currently.


India’s leading ODI wicket-takers amongst pacers since Siraj’s debut in 50 overs (Stats till March 22, 2023)

Bowler

ODIs

Wkts

Average

5W

Mohammed Shami

37

68

25.22

1

Shardul Thakur

30

44

31.38

0

Jasprit Bumrah

28

43

30.27

1

Mohammed Siraj

24

43

20.72

0

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

25

40

27.52

0


What else works for Siraj-Shami?


Siraj’s penchant to take wickets upfront in ODIs

Siraj has taken 26 wickets out of total of 43 wickets in the first 15 overs in 24 matches so far. That amounts to around 60 per cent of his total wickets; taking wickets when field restrictions are there shows how effective Siraj has been in his attacking game. He has attacked in pursuit of wickets throughout his spell in the powerplay overs.


Shami keeps it tight on the other end

Shami, on the other hand, relies on his consistent line-and-length bowling to frustrate the opposition who, more often than not, end up throwing their wickets. Shami may not have been as successful as Siraj in the powerplay overs, but the pressure he builds from the other end has helped Siraj or other strike bowlers to reap the rewards. Hence, the two makes for a great new-ball pair, giving no respite to the opposition.


Siraj outshines Shami

In the past few series, Siraj has even outdone Shami. Siraj has taken 30 wickets in 14 ODIs since the first ODI against South Africa at home in 2022. During the same time, Shami has taken 10 wickets in 8 ODIs. But the two complement each other well, and feed off each other’s confidence.


India vs Sri Lanka, 3rd ODI, Top Performances_ Mohammed Siraj took 4-32 in final ODI against Sri Lanka _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Mohammed Siraj has taken 43 wickets from 24 matches (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

What makes the two bowlers stand out? Their skills come into play

Siraj keeps attacking the stumps with a great burst of energy every time he bowls. Siraj’s hard length is quite enticing as it neither allows the batter to go forward or back, and makes them commit errors.


Shami, on the other hand, makes the ball move both ways. He can also get the ball to move away apart from the natural inswing for a right-arm bowler, making it difficult for batters to pick him.


Both the bowlers can bowl with new or old ball and still take wickets. They can also reverse swing the ball. Their burst of energy no matter what situation they are bowling in gives little room for the opposition to get away.


Although Bumrah is known as the toe-crusher, Shami and Siraj too are adept at this skill of bowling yorkers. However, the captain needs to use them judiciously. Thanks to their skills, the two bowlers can be used in powerplay, middle overs and even in death overs. They can be used in small bursts to keep them fresh. Also, the two bring in variety to the bowling attack, keeping the unit fresh.



Rotating bowlers important

Team India should not just rely on these two new-ball bowlers. India must find backups for them in case either of them or both are not able to make it to the World Cup squad due to injury or unavailability. The likes of Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik should be given ample chances to prove their worth.


Shami and Siraj can be rotated with other pace bowlers to keep them fresh and injury-free. Either of them can be rotated for dead rubbers or matches of little consequence or when the series has been already decided. Team India could also bring in a new bowler to test the bench strength.


It goes without saying that managing Shami-Siraj’s workload is crucial for India’s chances in the World Cup.


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