“In terms of who the replacement is, we’ll see, we’ll see, we have time until October 15,” Dravid said at a press conference after the third T20I against South Africa in Indore on Tuesday night. “Shami is clearly someone on standby, but unfortunately for us he couldn’t play this series, which would have been ideal from that perspective.
“He’s in the NCA right now – we’ll need to get reports on how he’s recovering, and what his status is after 14-15 days of Covid, and we’ll get a call as soon as I get reports on how he’s feeling, then can we answer a call and the voters can answer a call about how to proceed.”
Rohit, meanwhile, suggested during the post-match presentation that India would be looking for a bowler with experience in Australian conditions.
“We need to bring in someone who has experience, who has bowled in Australia, and see what he has to offer,” Rohit said. “I don’t know who that man is yet. There are a few guys who qualify, but we will call them as soon as we reach Australia.”
However, he has only played one T20I in the country, although it is unlikely to count against him in a head-to-head shootout with Chahar, who has only played three T20Is in Australia and no international matches in the other formats.
“We need to bring in someone who has experience, who has bowled in Australia, and see what he has to offer.”
Rohit on Bumrah’s replacement
Shami also scores above other contenders in other respects. Real pace is a quality the Indian squad lacks in Bumrah’s absence – Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh and Harshal Patel have different individual strengths, but all three can be roughly classified as medium-fast bowlers. Chahar is a similar bowler to Bhuvneshwar, a swing bowler whose greatest strength is in power play.
Shami’s biggest impact over the past IPL seasons has also come into power play; he was the joint leading wicket-taker at this stage during the 2022 season, with 11 wickets remaining at an average of 24.09 with an economy rate of 6.62. But with his extra pace and ability to hit the deck hard, he scores above Chahar in other stages.
With no real comparable substitute available for Bumrah – a true all-condition, all-phase operator – there is a chance that India will pick a bowler who will increase their depth of strike, allowing them to try to make up for what they lose with the ball by hitting doubling down on the aggressive hitting approach they’ve been adopting in recent months.
In a pitch-side interview with star sport after the Indore T20I, Dravid had noticed the depth of strike in India became a more aggressive side with the bat.
“We made a decision after the last T20 World Cup, sat down with the group, sat down with Rohit and we deliberately tried to be more positive,” said Dravid. “We believe we have the quality of batsmanship that allows us to be positive and play a little bit more aggressively.
“And it also means we have to structure our squads a little bit around the fact that we have to try to have a little bit more depth of strike as well.”
He also praised Indore’s lower order batters’ display, although India ultimately fell far short of their 228 goal.
“I was really happy with the fact that we kept going, we kept hitting hard, we stayed positive – even lower in the order, just to see Harshal and Deepak, also these guys, get a few shots in front of us,” said Dravid. “Really good signs knowing we have people in the lower echelons who can make those clutch hits, if we need them, in some of the other games.”
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo