Mohammed Shami, who set the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 with his fiery pace bowling, didn't find his place in India's XI as Virat Kohli & Co take on New Zealand in the first semi-final at Old Trafford, Manchester on Tuesday. But the move to drop Shami has taken fans and pundits by surprise.
India, however, made one change -- bringing Yuzvendra Chahal for Kuldeep Yadav. Kohli said nothing about Shami, who took 14 wickets in four matches including the tournament's first hat-trick, at the toss.
With Jasprit Bumrah the constant in the Indian bowling attack and Hardik Pandya doing good work as the third seamer, it was between Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shami to fight it for the second pacer.
Soon after Kohli announced India's playing at the toss, fans took to Twitter to share their displeasure with many coming up with their own reasons, ore conspiracy theories. But former India captain Ganguly, who's on air for the official broadcasters, didn't mince words and questioned Shami's exclusion.
It didn't take long for respected commentator Bhogle to share his opinion too, and he agreed with Ganguly.
Like @SGanguly99, I admit I am surprised by the dropping of Shami. He takes wickets upfront and if you do, the death overs aren't as critical. India batting very deep with Jadeja at 8 but it is a big call to leave out Kuldeep against a team he has done well.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) July 9, 2019
A sentiment also shared by former India opener Akash Chopra.
Okay with Chahal over Kuldeep. Not so much for Shami’s exclusion. Only five bowlers is a possible concern but from that perspective, bowling first isn’t that bad a thing. India bats deep with this combination. #CWC19 #IndvNZ— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) July 9, 2019
Meanwhile, Shami is facing heat for off-field reasons. The Bengal pacer allegedly sent a message to a lady.
Also read some fan reactions:
Mohammed Shami is not selected because of BJP.— Ibn Sina (@Ibne_Sena) July 7, 2019
ROFL ð pic.twitter.com/zLdZJSKfK6
Shami not in the team and Bhuvi in, because INDIAN team goes on reputation than recent form, because Bhuvi is a senior statesman and has been consistent with the team for 3 years, and Shami in team from NZ tour. But they are forgetting Shami is more incisive & penetrative. #CWC19— Rishabh Wadhwa (@Cric_Rishabh) July 9, 2019
Wait where’s shami???— city lightsâ¨ d-1 (@puddingbyun) July 9, 2019
India’s XI is slightly conservative. Picking Bhuvi & Jadeja ahead Kuldeep & Shami they’ve arguably picked the better all-round players at the expense of the better bowlers, but on a fresh pitch which has been high-scoring in this comp that batting depth could be precious. #CWC19— Freddie Wilde (@fwildecricket) July 9, 2019
Stupid decision to play DK instead of ShamiðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ— mahadev (@mahadev586) July 9, 2019
Its would have been better to choose Mohd. Shami. He was bowling much better. Wonder why was Bhubaneshwar included instead. He gives too many runs— Chowkidar DK (@DK27168079) July 9, 2019
Highly disappointed for not selecting shami.— Rahul Zahid Kureshi (@rahulkureshi) July 9, 2019
4 match me 14 wickets Aur kya kare 1 bowler? Even bhuvi gone for runs against Sri Lanka in last match.
#INDvNZ— Ramesh Srivats (@rameshsrivats) July 9, 2019
I guess Shami is being "rested" for 2 matches so that he is insanely fresh for the finals.
The best captain on the earth, has dropped shami from the team, expecting better excuses from cuties to defend him this time. #NZvIND— ANSHUMANðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ© (@AvengerReturns) July 9, 2019
Is Shami injured or have we wilfully not picked the guy with 14 wickets in 4 games & the best strike rate in the entire tournament? ðÂÂÂÂ¤¦ðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ¾âÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂï¸ÂÂÂÂ— Sahil Rizwan (@SahilRiz) July 9, 2019
Kiwi captain Kane Williamson won the toss and opted to field. They also have made one change, with Lockie Ferguson replacing Tim Southee.
India: Lokesh Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (c), Rishabh Pant, MS Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Trent Boult.