New Delhi: Jharkhand’s seasoned left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem has made a strong case for himself to be considered for the six-match limited overs series against England after Ravindra Jadeja’s understudy Axar Patel on Thursday underwent a finger surgery in Mumbai.
With Axar ruled out and Jadeja expected to be sparingly used during the upcoming series (3 ODIs and 3 T20 Internationals), Nadeem, who is currently the highest wicket-taker in Ranji Trophy with 50 scalps, comes into the picture for the shortest format.
Incidentally, Nadeem had 51 wickets in 9 games during the last Ranji Trophy (2015-16) season. With 100 plus wickets in two Ranji seasons, it will be difficult to ignore Nadeem, who has done the hard yards in domestic cricket in the last decade. He has also played 83 T20s, including a fair share of IPL games with a decent career economy rate of under seven runs per over (6.59).
There is a strong possibility that India’s top players will be playing the 50-over format considering that it will be the last chance to have some ODIs under their belt before the Champions Trophy. The national team is still to play five more Tests followed by the IPL. With another gruelling four-Test series against Australia awaiting in first part of summer, it could be a case of Jadeja being used for the ODIs and rested for the T20 Internationals.
India does not have any more T20 Internationals for the time being, allowing the selection committee to try some of the other players. The Indian selectors have followed a systematic pattern over the past few years, which could logically lead to Nadeem’s selection.
The specialists in each department has been identified in the last two years and team selections have gone as per plan unless the team management has demanded something specific like a left-arm pacer, which led to Barinder Sran’s surprise inclusion during the Australia ODI series in January. Similarly, the template for the left-arm spin department is a set one. Jadeja is top left-arm spinner across all formats.
However, whenever rested, Axar has taken Jadeja’s place most of the times. Just like Jayant Yadav has been Ravichandran Ashwin’s understudy. Now with Axar ruled out of the England series, Nadeem stands a good chance of making it to the national side. The 27-year-old has played at all levels save senior India and limited overs captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has a fair idea about his capabilities.