“When you need to win, you got to prepare better,” Shastri told Star Sports. “I think the selection could have been better, especially for the fast bowlers. You know the conditions here. There’s not much in it for the spinners. I was quite surprised that you came here with just four fast bowlers [including Hardik].
“You needed that extra one… Someone like Mohammed Shami sitting at home and cooling his heels baffles me. After the IPL he had, for him not to be able to make the cut is… Obviously, I’m seeing something different.”
Shami finished as the highest wicket-taker for IPL debutants Gujarat Titans during their march to the title earlier this year. He picked up 20 wickets, but more importantly featured in every match (16). His powerplay numbers were particularly impressive. His 11 wickets in this phase were the joint-highest with Mukesh Choudhary, while his economy of 6.62 was the fifth-best among the 14 bowlers who delivered 20 or more overs in the competition. However, at the death, his economy was 9.63.
Against Sri Lanka, India’s bowling problems stemmed from their inability to pick up wickets upfront. Sri Lanka’s openers Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis blasted 97 in just 11.1 overs to set the tone for their chase. Even though spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and R Ashwin brought them back with four quick wickets, Sri Lanka had already covered far too much ground.
“No one ever wishes to sit out,” Shastri said of Shami’s absence. “Of course, there is something called workload management. I would agree with it, to an extent, but at times I think there are some minus points in it as well. I feel that at times when you are in good form and in great rhythm, you shouldn’t stop playing. Of course, at times, I feel, for the sake of recovery, you need to take a break. You have to do it smartly.”
“When I say planning, there should have been one extra fast bowler. One spinner less in the [squad of] 15-16. You don’t want to be caught in a situation where one guy has a fever and then you have no one else to play. You have to play another spinner, which can be embarrassing in the end.”