Former Pakistan fast bowler Wasim Akram feels India will find it hard to drop seamer Mohammed Shami from the playing XI after his performance against New Zealand in the ICC World Cup 2023 match at Daramsala last week.
Shami bagged his third ODI five-wicket haul and second in World Cup history to script India's 4-wicket win over the Blackcaps on Saturday.
Shami had been warming the benches in the first four games of this World Cup as India preferred Shardul Thakur over him. But he made an immediate impact after Hardik Pandya got injured and ruled out of the match due to an ankle injury.
Akram full of praise for Shami
Shami became the first Indian bowler to bag two ODI World Cup five-fors and Akram said he might get to play all the remaining matches for India after his match-winning show against NZ.
"It will be difficult to drop Shami now. Credit to the team management that whenever any player in the squad comes into the XI, he seems ready. When Shami's ball hits the seam, it can deviate either way," Akram told Sportskeeda.
"It is not easy to come into the World Cup and hit the ground running straight away. He (Shami) is a new ball bowler and sometimes while bowling first-change, you can get emotional and think 'why didn't i get the new ball?' But he has the experience and he made the most of the opportunity that he got to win the game for his country."
Akram's advice on Pandya
Akram also feels that India should bring back Pandya only when he's completely fit to take the field. The Men in Blue have won all five games in their campaign so far and will next face defending champions England in Lucknow on October 29.
"This squad looks good even without Pandya. If he is fit then well and good. India shouldn't risk Pandya (against England) because if it's an injury to a hamstring or quad, then although you feel good initially, you could pull a muscle in the match. So let him recover 100 percent and then you can play him," the former Pakistan captain added.