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Monday, June 24, 2024

Team India wants Shami fit, in body and mind, for England Tests

NEW DELHI: No cricketer would want to be in Mohammad Shami’s shoes at the moment. Battling personal issues for the past three months, one of India’s most potent pacers now finds himself out of the team just three days ahead of the one-off Test against Afghanistan after failing a fitness test. Delhi pacer Navdeep Saini has been called up as his replacement for the Test which starts in Bengaluru on Thursday.Shammi
On the face of it, Team India’s strict adherence to fitness standards seems to have come in the way of Shami. But TOI has learnt that the team management is more concerned about getting him in the right frame of mind for the Test matches in England, which are less than two months away.

“There is no doubt about his cricketing skills. He is doing fine with it. The team just wants to get him back in shape – in body and mind. He is vital to the team’s prospects in England,” a source close to the team management told TOI on Monday. There was also a thought that Shami needed a break from cricket and should come back fresh with his focus back on the game. His fitness level has always flirted with the cut-off set by the team management, and the 28-year-old is now walking a tight rope.
Sources told TOI that Shami barely trained during his stay with the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL. It is also learnt that DD coach Ricky Ponting had told him to take a break from the team’s travel since he was struggling to cope with his personal issues. He would mingle very little with the boys and was reluctant to take part in the fun activities and gettogethers in the Daredevils camp.

“We will work out a programme for him and the team management will monitor him constantly. He needs to be engaged in cricket. Once he attains the desired fitness levels, he should be fine to go,” the source said. “The team management has been talking to him and will be spending more time with him and try to help him move on,” he added.

Shami has not been picked for the limited-overs leg of the tour of Ireland and England beginning in the last week of this month. While the selectors are likely to give some of the Test specialists a go in the four-day fixture between India ‘A’ and West Indies ‘A’ in England ahead of the Test series, Shami will have about three weeks to conquer his demons. The selectors will be in England when the Test team will be picked.


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