New Delhi September 18 2022: Mohammad Shami has been ruled out of the three-match T20I series against Australia after contracting COVID-19.
Umesh Yadav has been named as Shami's replacement for the three-match series. The 34-year-old returns to India's T20I setup after a gap of more than three years, having last played the shortest format in February 2019 against Australia.
Yadav has only represented India in seven games but has been a consistent bowler in the India Premier League (IPL). In the most recent edition, he finished with 16 wickets in 12 matches at an economy of 7.06 and was particularly a menace in the Powerplay with his pace.
India squad for Australia T20I series: Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), Hardik Pandya, R. Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Deepak Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav.
More recently, he was the leading wicket-taker for Middlesex in the Royal London Cup with 16 wickets from seven games. His stint was cut short due to a quad injury but the pacer is now in line to play his first white-ball match for India in more than three years.
The COVID-19 infection comes at the worst possible time for Shami, who himself was set for a T20I return. The 32-year-old has not been a part of the T20I setup since the last T20 World Cup in UAE and was relegated to the standbys when India announced their squad for the upcoming marquee event in Australia.
Despite being out of favour in the shortest format for India, he came back into reckoning after a splendid IPL with the Gujarat Titans for whom he scalped 20 wickets in 16 matches in their title-winning campaign.
The three-match series between India and Australia will be crucial for both teams to test themselves as the T20 World Cup inches closer. The hosts have in fact named a near-identical squad that is set to fly Down Under for the tournament next month.
On the other hand, Australia will be without the services of Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Marsh and Marcus Stoinis due to injuries but they are expected to recover in time for the marquee event. All eyes will be on Tim David, who has been called up to the Australian side ahead of the World Cup.
The T20I series begins on 20 September in Mohali before the action moves to Nagpur on 23 September. The final T20I will be played in Hyderabad on 25 September.