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Australia vs India, 2nd Test: 3 Players who can replace Mohammed Shami at MCG

Team India had a forgettable show in the opening Test of the 4-match series against Australia as they were bundled out on their lowest total in the history of Test cricket, 36 for 9, in the second innings at Adelaide Oval.

The visitors lost the game by 8-wickets and are currently 1-0 down in the series underway. While the absence of skipper Virat Kohli for the remaining Tests was already a big concern ahead of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, and now the form of some of the Indian batters in their lineup is raising concerns, what added to the misery is the ruling out of India’s key pacer Mohammed Shami for the Australia series. 

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Shami suffered a fracture on his right forearm post a pacey delivery by Pat Cummins in the second innings. With the 30-year-old right-arm pacer nowhere in the picture, the pressure is on Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav to affect the required breakthroughs. 

However, the visitors would require a third pacer, somebody who could fill in the shoes of Shami and form a formidable trio alongside Bumrah and Umesh for the upcoming Test matches. 

With the second match, a Boxing Day Test, all set to commence from December 26 in Melbourne Cricket Ground, there are certain players in India’s armory who could be tested at this juncture. 

Let’s take a look at the top 3 Indian bowlers who could replace Mohammed Shami in the playing XI

Navdeep Saini

Saini has experience of international matches under his belt, but he is yet to make his debut in the longest format of the game. The 28-year-old Delhi cricketer made a mark for himself in domestic cricket followed by the Indian Premier League (IPL).

In 46 First-Class matches, the Haryana-born has picked 128 wickets while averaging 28.46 with 4 five-fors and 6/32 as the best figures in an innings.

He has been on a rise since his debut against West Indies in 2019. So far, Saini has been a part of 7 ODIs and 10 T20Is wherein he has bagged 6 and 13 wickets respectively. 

He could be a bit expensive on occasions, but, being a wicket-taking bowler, one could bank on him in getting those dismissals. 

Not to forget, Saini picked three wickets in the second practice Test at SCG, and perhaps the only Indian pacer in the current squad who could majorly annoy the opposition with sheer pace. 

Also Read: I firmly believe the selectors should stick with Prithvi Shaw: Michael Hussey

T Natarajan

The left-arm pacer rendered top-notch performances in the concluded limited-overs games against Australia and is currently serving as a net-bowler to the Indian team. Thus, in the current scenario, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if he gets his maiden Test call in the forthcoming contest. 

In 20 First-Class matches played to date, Natarajan has been effective in scalping 64 wickets while averaging just over 27, along with 3 four-fors and as many five-fors, and 5/41 as the best figure in an innings. 

Though Natarajan isn’t a member of the Test squad, in case he is added at the final moments, then he could prove to be an asset with his bowling variations. 

Mohammed Siraj

Mohammed Siraj is yet to play an international match in the ongoing tour of Australia. The 26-year-old has his name in the Test squad on account of his consistent numbers in the Indian First-Class cricket and with the conditions in Australia suiting his needs, one could expect Siraj to rake in impressive figures. 

In 38 First-Class matches, Siraj has scalped 152 wickets at an average of 23.44 with best figures in an innings being 8/59. He has 4 five-wicket hauls to his name, 13 four-wicket hauls, and twice he has been successful in scraping ten-wicket hauls in a match. 

Siraj was a member of the practice Test matches against Australia A that were contested ahead of the Test series. He bagged three wickets in the first practice game at Drummoyne Oval and a couple in the second match at SCG.

With the pace that he commands plus the ability to bowl bouncers, Siraj could be a viable replacement for Mohammed Shami in the Boxing Day Test at MCG.

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V Shashankhttps://www.mpl.live/
A cricket aficionado who has been following the game since the historic Ashes 2013-14. "People throw stones at you, you turn them into milestones." - Sachin Tendulkar

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