Shami was ruled out of India vs SA Test series. Mohammed Shami ruled out of the India vs South Africa Test series due to an ankle injury. Allan Donald called Shami’s absence “a great shame”.

India’s pace attack has been in the spotlight as much as their batters (if not more) for quite some time now. This has been the case before each of India’s overseas Test series in the last five years or so. In many ways, it began in South Africa in January 2018 when India first unleashed a four-pronged pace attack on the Proteas, handing a debut to Jasprit Bumrah and playing a raw Hardik Pandya in the series opener in Cape Town.

India lost the Test by 72 runs but it sent down a message to the world – Indian pacers are here to give it back. Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, and Mohammed Siraj have since then given nightmares to the best in the business. The story is likely to be the same when India begins another quest to win a Test series in South Africa with the series opener at the Supersport in Centurion on Tuesday.

But it won’t be that easy for the Indian pacers this time around. And one of the major reasons behind that is the absence of Shami. Ishant has not played a Test match for close to two years now, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar is no longer in the scheme of things. But Shami has been the silent leader of India’s pace attack for quite some time now. He has toured South Africa thrice and played 8 Tests, picking up 35 wickets at an average of 23.22 which is much better than his career average of 27. The way he performed in the ODI World Cup, ending up as the leading wicket-taker despite missing the first four matches, he would have been a handful in these conditions.

Shami was ruled out of India vs SA Test series
Shami was ruled out of the India vs SA Test series

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India vs South Africa Live Score, 1st Test (Shami was ruled out of India vs SA Test series):

That is exactly why former South Africa pacer Allan Donald called Shami’s absence “a great shame”. The right-arm pacer initially named in India’s squad for the two-match Test series against South Africa subject to fitness but was later ruled out after BCCI’s medical team confirmed that his ankle would take time to heal.

“This attack that they have built over the last five-six years and where they are now. It’s a great shame Shami is out,” Donald told Rev Sports before the series opener.

The white lightning said very few bowlers in world cricket have a release like Shami. “I’m a massive fan of him. I don’t think there is a bowler today that has got a better release when the seam comes down. He’s going to be very much missed, it’s a great shame,” he added.

In place of Shami, India is likely to prefer Prasidh Krishna over Mukesh Kumar for the first Test. Donald, however, was confident about Bumrah and Siraj proving to be a handful in South African conditions. “Then you’ve got Bumrah, Siraj, and the rest. You know, It’s going to be a fantastic prospect. The Indian batting lineup will enjoy batting here. The ball coming on to the bat, the scoring rate in Centurion will be at a good rate if the bowlers get loose there, but yeah, it just makes for a fantastic series,” he said.

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‘Bumrah is unique’: Donald

Bumrah will be playing his first Test in more than a year. “He (Bumrah) is unique. There isn’t any bowler in the world that has got a release point as late as his, others are sort of upright but he’s just more in front of himself a little bit and then he’s got this amazing wrist turnover. He says he bowls those balls too often, which is a little bit predictable so he knows exactly what he needs to be better at. But I think that’s what makes batsmen very edgy because you just don’t know what is coming next.

He uses the crease very well, he goes up and wide of the crease, mid of the crease, close, the angles on the crease. That is very unsettling for a batsman because if he’s swinging it out to the right-hander with the new ball, that’s very difficult to defend. I just love the outright skill this guy has. It’s just lovely to watch.”

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