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Shami set to return; turning pitch unlikely for final Test

March 04, 2023 16:16 IST

IMAGE: Mohammed Shami will be needed on a dry surface in Ahmedabad, which might be conducive for reverse swing. Photograph: BCCI

India's senior-most speedster Mohammed Shami is expected to feature in the playing XI for the final Test against Australia in Ahmedabad, starting March 9 after being rested for workload management during the third match in Indore.

The Indian team management, in consultation with medical staff, has decided to space out the pace bowlers, who are also going to feature regularly in IPL 2023 and are also part of the ODI World Cup plan.


Hence, Shami, who had played the first two Tests and is also a part of the ODI squad, was rested for the third game. In his place Umesh Yadav was drafted in as the second pacer after Mohammed Siraj.

With Siraj only needed for 24 overs in the first three games and is likely to feature in all three ODIs between March 17 to 22, he is likely to get some time off during the final game at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera.

Shami, who has been the best pacer on view across both teams with seven scalps from 30 odd overs that he has bowled, will be needed on a dry Motera surface, which might be conducive for reverse swing.

India are currently leading the four-Test series 2-1 but need to win the last game in order to nullify the result of Sri Lanka's away series against New Zealand.

The Holkar Stadium in Indore has been already panned by ICC match referee Chris Broad for preparing a "poor" track and right now Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) is unlikely to risk its reputation by preparing something diabolical which will get a red eye from the game's governing body.

"We haven't received any instructions from the Indian team management and our local curators are preparing a normal track as we have always done through the season," a state association source told PTI.

"In fact, last Ranji game over here in January, Railways scored 500 plus (508) batting first and Gujarat, although had innings defeat, scored 200 plus in both innings. It won't be too different this time," he said.

There are 96 hours still left for the Test match to begin and one doesn't know what will happen once BCCI curators Taposh Chatterjee and Ashsh Bhowmick take over.

"Obviously, last few days, the BCCI's grounds and pitches committee instruct the local curator. But certainly, from our end, our endeavour is to produce a good Test match pitch," the official said.

The last time two Test matches were held in Ahmedabad during COVID-19 pandemic, the day-night match ended in just under two days.

"You have to factor in that the Day-Night Test and the one after that were the first ones held after the stadium was refurbished and you had no clue how the pitch will pan out," he added.

With the Test match ending inside two-and-half-days, star batter Virat Kohli and wife Anushka Sharma visited Shree Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain on Saturday morning to offer prayers.

While some of the players have stayed back in Indore, a few including skipper Rohit Sharma have returned to Mumbai and will join the team in Ahmedabad on March 6.



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