You would have to go all the way back to November 8, 2021, to find Mohammed Shami’s last appearance in the shortest format for India. It was in the final group fixture against Namibia, and ever since, the pacer has been frozen out of the squad. Until now.
With injury to Jasprit Bumrah, the Indian selectors roped in the 32-year-old pacer, Shami back into the mix for the tournament Down Under. In India’s first warm-up fixture against Australia, Rohit Sharma handed the ball to the 32-year-old in the 20th over, where he picked up three vital wickets and helped India claw an unlikely win.
Former Australian all-rounder Tom Moody backs the 32-year-old, stating that his experience would be ‘invaluable’ for the Men in Blue in their opening fixture against arch-rivals, Pakistan.
"I'd be going with Shami. I'd just go with his experience. Obviously, Bhuvi and Arshdeep are the first two. I just think that in big tournaments, you back big players. And he's a big player with a lot of experience,” Moody said at Star Sports show Game Plan.
"He (Shami) may be short with some volume in his bowling, but that one over he bowled against Australia would have gone a long way with regards to not so much the physical side of things, but definitely the mental side of things,” he added.
It is a well-known secret that India and Pakistan possess one of the deadliest batting and bowling units. While Pakistan’s bowling has been top-notch, India’s batting have been on the same trajectory over the last few years.
"I think it's an intriguing contest, because to me, India are a batting strong side while Pakistan, I think, are a bowling strong side. So, for me it's a real contest as to how well India bat against a very strong new ball attack. If they get through that, I see India controlling the game," Moody added.
"But that's where they need to manage -- in the first six overs. Now, we know its T20, we know its Power Play, we also know that if we want to get off to a flyer, we have to manage that carefully. So, I'm not saying you need to be conservative, you need to be watchful."
The rivals lock horns in one of the biggest grounds in international cricket over the world – the Melbourne Cricket Ground – and Moody believes that playing to the dimensions will be vital for the two teams.
"It's a big venue, so the short ball and the use of that length, hard length, with that change of pace into that length, is the key to bowling at the MCG.
"So, I'm sure that both teams are very aware of what the tactical play is with the ball in those top end overs and particularly in those defensive overs."