Shami is an ideal replacement for Bumrah: Tendulkar

The absence of Jasprit Bumrah is a “great loss” for India but Mohammed Shami can more than fill the gap with his speed and skill in the ICC T20 World Cup, says Sachin Tendulkar.

Bumrah, out indefinitely due to a stress fracture in his back, has been replaced in the regular squad by Shami, who has not played a T20I game since the last edition of the World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

However, the smart 32-year-old from Amroha allayed any doubts about his fitness with a superb three-wicket burst in the 20th over to secure India’s six-run win over Australia in a warm-up game in Brisbane on Monday.

“Bumrah not being there is a huge loss and we obviously needed a strike bowler. A true fast bowler through and through, capable of attacking batsmen and taking wickets. Shami proved that and he seems like a good replacement,” Tendulkar said in an exclusive interview with PTI.

The Maestro seemed very impressed with young left-arm sailor Arshdeep Singh, who has shown a lot of heart in what has been a short international career so far.

“Arshdeep has promised a lot and he looks like a balanced guy. And from what I’ve seen of him, he looks like a dedicated guy because you see a player, you see the way he thinks,” said the legendary racquet.

For Tendulkar, committing to a plan is as important as creating one. “What I really like is that Arshdeep has a plan and is going into it, and that’s really, really important in this format because the batters are going out and playing those extra shots and some innovative ones. So if you have a plan, stick to it.”

Hard to hit against spin on larger Australian soils. India will play at MCG, SCG, Adelaide and Perth grounds (Optus Stadium) with larger side boundaries.

Tendulkar believes that floor dimensions will be paramount for any captain when choosing their spinners in the first XI.

“With the turn you end up playing more towards the turn and there are few hitters who have managed to consistently hit against the turn. Usually, the captains look at the margins and decide which bowler (off spinner/leg spinner or left arm spinner) should play. You also look at the direction the wind is blowing before choosing a spinner.

“It also depends on the style of bowling and which areas you like to attack. Whether it’s more to the batter’s body or outside of the off-stump. Ideally, when picking an off-spinner, you should introduce it from the side where the off-side boundary is shorter in case the hitter wants to hit against the spin,” he explained.

The left-right combination makes bowlers uncomfortable. With Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik likely to make up the top six, India might not end up playing their lone left-handed specialist Rishabh Pant. at least in the opening game against Pakistan.

While Tendulkar declined to comment on team combinations, he believes a left-handed batting lineup offers the kind of variety every team craves. “There’s definitely an added value left-handed and bowlers have to adapt, outfielders have to adapt and when they’re able to consistently rotate the shot, that’s not something the bowler enjoys.”

“Look, I wouldn’t just stick to the (top) three. You always play as a unit and you should see what works well. You can’t get past the top 2 or top 3. As a unit it’s important what you have and then figuring out who you’re going to put in which position and also checking how strong the opponent is.”

Conditions and throw become factors in defending long shots. India didn’t do too well on defending in T20Is, but Tendulkar attributed a lot of that to conditions and throwing. “I think sometimes it was the conditions and defending the general classification that was a problem. Conditions change as the game progresses and hunting becomes easier.”

“In certain places, throwing becomes important when you know dew is going to be a factor. Regardless of the runs you score, once the ball gets wet and the outfield gets wet, you can still get out and score those extra runs than the team that bats first,” he signed.

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