With Zaheer Khan running out of favour with the selectors in the shorter version of the game and Ishant Sharma failing to cement his place in spite of being given numerous opportunities, India have had to depend on the inexperienced duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami to lead the pace attack. Both began their respective careers on impressive notes but while Kumar has failed to develop on his good start and has struggled in recent times, Shami has improved by leaps and bounds. Here’s a breakdown of their performance in two halves.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar: In all, the medium pacer has featured in 34 matches and has claimed 37 wickets at an average of 36.6. This is in stark contrast to his first 17 seven in which he grabbed 25 wickets at an excellent average of 22, with a best of 4 for 8 which came against Sri Lanka. He averaged 23 in England with six wickets in five matches, 35 in India with 9 wickets in eight games and 10 in West Indies with 10 wickets in four games.
Looking at his last 17 matches, Kumar has had a big struggle. In this period, he has only managed to pick up 12 wickets at a very high average of 67.2 with a best of 2 for 56 against Pakistan and West Indies. In eight matches played in India, he has only claimed 5 wickets at an average touching 72. In New Zealand, he averaged 60 with only four wickets to show from five matches. In the ongoing Asia Cup in Bangladesh as well he has managed only three wickets from three games while averaging a high 47.
Mohammed Shami: The pacer has an impressive record overall, 48 wickets in 28 matches at an average of 29 with a best of 4/50. In his first 14 matches, Shami managed 17 wickets at an average of 34.4 with best figures of 3 for 42 against the Aussies. During this period, Shami played eight matches in India and claimed 11 wickets at an average of 30. He also played five games in Zimbabwe and picked up six wickets averaging 30.5 with a best of 2 for 25.
In his last 14 games, Shami has recorded even more impressive figures. The pace bowler has grabbed 31 wickets averaging 26.2 with a best of 4 for 50. In the ongoing Asia Cup, Shami has managed seven wickets in three games averaging 26 with a four-for against Bangladesh. In India, he has claimed four wickets in three games averaging 33. Further, in New Zealand, he featured in five matches and picked up 11 wickets averaging 29. Even in South Africa, he impressed with 9 wickets in three games at an average of 20.5. If there is one aspect, Shami will have to improve in, it is his economy rate which, at 5.8, is on the higher side.
--By A Cricket Analyst