India quick Mohammed Shami has been left out of the squad for the Afghanistan Test in Bengaluru, after failing a fitness test at NCA. It is understood Shami has a hamstring issue and it was decided to rest him keeping in mind the five-Test series in England which starts in August. Uncapped fast bowler Navdeep Saini, who was the highest wicket-taker for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy with 34 wickets in eight games, has been picked as a like-for-like replacement.
Shami tested his hamstring while bowling in the nets on the first day of India’s training sessions ahead of the Afghanistan Test. It is not yet clear whether the decision to drop him from the squad was taken after Monday’s training. His most recent competitive game was in the IPL for Delhi Daredevils against Kolkata Knight Riders on April 16. He was later named as replacement for allrounder Hardik Pandya in the World XI squad for the charity T20I match against West Indies at Lord’s on May 31, but did not turn up for the match.
Saini consistently generated upwards of 140kph in the Ranji Trophy – two such thunderbolts dismissed Aamir Gani and B Amit off successive deliveries in the semi-final against Bengal in Pune. He claimed seven wickets in the match and bowled Delhi to the final. He then picked up eight wickets in six matches in the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy at an economy rate of 5.13. He was subsequently picked for the Deodhar Trophy and the Irani Cup.
More recently, Saini was named in the India A squad that will tour England for a four-day match from July 16. Saini did not get a game for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL but his bowling coach Ashish Nehra rates him highly.
Updated India squad: Ajinkya Rahane (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, M Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Karun Nair, Dinesh Karthik (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Shardul Thakur