India’s decision to ‘rest’ pacer Mohammed Shami in the must-win second ODI against New Zealand at the Eden Park in Auckland has left off-spinner Harbhajan Singh bamboozled. After winning the toss, India captain Virat Kohli opted to bowl first and informed that India made two changes to their playing XI that lost the first ODI at Hamilton. “Mohammed Shami has been rested, we’ve got the Test series coming up, he’s one of the main bowlers for us,” said Kohli while informing about the changes.
Fast bowler Navdeep Saini was drafted into the side in place of Shami while Shardul Thakur continued to hold on to his position, despite giving away 80 runs in 9 overs in the Hamilton ODI. which India lost by 4 wickets. “I don’t why he (Shami) is not playing,” Harbhajan told Star Sports in the pre-match show. Harbhajan agreed with the selection of Navdeep Saini but indicated that it should have been in place of Shardul Thakur, who conceded 80 runs off 9 overs in the previous ODI, instead of Shami.
Interestingly, former India World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev had also vouched for Navdeep Saini’s inclusion in the side ahead of the 2nd ODI. “You need a wicket-taking option. It is important to get Saini in the side not because India have lost the first ODI but he deserves a place in the side because of his pace and wicket-taking abilities. Look at Bumrah, he forces New Zealand to play him watchfully because whenever batsmen try to attack these bowlers can get wickets,” he told ABP News.
Saini, who made his ODI debut against the West Indies, impressed with his pace, bounce and also the ability to bowl yorkers at the death against Australia.