New Delhi: The last thing Mohammed Shami would have wanted was an injury to be forced out of action especially ahead of such a crucial ODI and T20 series against Australia. In the end it serves as a big loss for India as Shami's impact on Australian pitches will be missed dearly.
The Bengal pacer excelled in the 2015 ICC World Cup in Australia with 17 wickets to his name as India bowed out in the semi-final against the eventual champions. Shami's spirit saw him play the latter half of the tourney through pain, thus aggravating his knee injury.
He underwent a knee surgery which sidelined him for more than eight months.
Shami made a return in the Vijay Hazare Trophy for Bengal recently.
Just when the pacer was excited in returning back to the international fold, a grade II injury to his left hamstring ruled him out for the tour of Australia. Shami was skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's best bet in Australian conditions and that will surely be missed as the visitors will now look to the services of Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and debutant Barinder Sran to do the job for them.
Shami's replacement Bhuvneshwar Kumar has struggled of late in limited overs game and therefore he wasn't selected in the initial squad. Bhuvneshwar will consider himself lucky to be given the nod ahead of an in-form Jasprit Bumrah who has been excellent in the Vijay Hazare Trophy for Gujarat.
Meanwhile, Shami's injury comes as a big blow for the pacer who wanted to make a good impression following his return. Shami was eager to bowl in Australian conditions after favouring the pitches until misfortunes struck him.
The bowler is unlikely to regain full fitness before February and with the ICC T20 World Cup from March 8, Shami's uncertainity will add to Dhoni's worries.
Dhoni who has been an admirer of the pacer and lauded him for his consistency and impact. He wanted to manage him well with focusing on the T20 World Cup but this injury has come at the worst possible time.
India will want to look forward and be optimistic against Steve Smith's Australia as the others will want to step up and fill the void left by Shami.