The highly anticipated India vs. Pakistan clash in the Asia Cup 2023 finally kicked off at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Pallekele on Saturday, September 2. Indian captain Rohit Sharma won the toss and opted to bat first in this high-stakes encounter. Despite the excitement surrounding the match, there was a notable omission from the Indian playing XI, as star seamer Mohammed Shami was left out.
Mohammed Shami had taken on the role of leading India’s pace attack in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah since 2022. His performance had been stellar, claiming 14 wickets in matches played since 2022 and excelling with the new ball. However, the team management decided to go with the versatile seam all-rounder Shardul Thakur instead, adding an extra batting option to the lineup.
Shardul Thakur has a track record of being a match-winner for India across all three formats in recent years. In the recent three-match ODI series against West Indies, he emerged as the highest wicket-taker, snatching eight wickets in three games at an impressive average of 11.62 and an economy rate of 5.31.
In 2023, the 31-year-old has already secured 14 wickets from eight games, maintaining an average of 16.42 and an economy rate of 5.92. Thakur was joined by Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, and Hardik Pandya to form the seam attack, while the spin department featured Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja.
The batting order featured the likes of Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, and Shreyas Iyer, with Ishan Kishan handling wicketkeeping duties. At the start of the game, openers Sharma and Gill faced the formidable challenge of Pakistan’s Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi, who displayed exceptional swing bowling skills. Naseem Shah, in particular, was on fire, allowing only three runs in two overs.
The partnership between Sharma and Gill had reached 15 runs from 4.2 overs before the rain intervened, temporarily halting the match. At that point, Sharma remained unbeaten on 11* (18), while Gill had yet to score after facing eight deliveries.
Amidst the action, discussions on social media platform X revolved around the surprising exclusion of Mohammed Shami from the Indian playing XI against Pakistan, sparking various reactions and speculations.
Sanjay Manjrekar said, “Mohammad Shami would’ve been more threatening to Pakistan than Shardul Thakur. You talk about batting depth, but bowling depth matters too”. pic.twitter.com/p9N3gBsHIU
— Mufaddal Vohra (@mufaddal_vohra) September 2, 2023
— Rofl Democrazy (@FakeerHun) September 2, 2023
Mohammed Shami would have been a better option in place of Shardul Thakur.
— Mohammed Abdullah 🇮🇳⚡ (@abbu_SI) September 2, 2023
Shardul over Shami, India’s obsession with Batting depth.. #INDvsPAK
— RichGuy (@RichGuy2416) September 2, 2023
Exclusion of Shami surprises me a lot….. Shardul inclusion is nothing but getting “bits and pieces” kind of in the XI which neither good for batting line-up nor bowling!
— Prashant Jha (@pjha2000) September 2, 2023
Everyone is questioning Shami’s exclusion and rightly so. But let’s hope those questions only remain questions for India’s sake.#INDvsPAK
— 𝙋𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙚𝙠 (@Prateekncmishra) September 2, 2023
— SAMEER PARASHAR (@BobbyDeolFanBoy) September 2, 2023
— Subash Bhupathy B P (@subb1508) September 2, 2023
Indian team again doesn’t have good quality pace …. Shardul in place of shami dat too in such a high pressure game..wonder what d selectors were thinking… #INDvsPAK
— Raj Kumar (@king_spades15) September 2, 2023