India and Australia face off at Mohali, knowing the winner will reach the semi-finals © Getty Images
India and Australia face off at Mohali, knowing the winner will reach the semi-finals © Getty Images

The Match 31 of T20 World Cup 2016 will witness one of the most important clashes of recent times, as hosts India will fight it out against Australia in a do-or-die match for both the sides. A place in the semi-finals and a daunting fixture against West Indies beckons for the winners. Both the sides are coming from back to back victories, but it is Australia, coming in with more confidence after their back to back performance against Bangladesh and Pakistan, while India whose playing standards were below average. The team selection will be very important for both the sides, especially for India, who have been facing a conundrum of fitting Mohammed Shami in the playing XI since the beginning of the tournament. FULL SCORECARD: India vs Australia, 31st T20 Match, Super 10 Group 2

Shami, who last played a competitive fixture exactly an year ago against Australia in the semi-finals of ICC World Cup 2015, has been struggling with injuries since then. He has been horribly unlucky in the past one year, as injuries have ruled him out before important series. He was originally selected for the T20 series down under against Australia, but was replaced by Jasprit Bumrah due to a hamstring injury. In the Asia Cup 2016, Shami again failed to appear, due to a lack of fitness. He finally made his comeback in the warm-up matches against West Indies and South Africa, picking two apiece in the both the games. ALSO READ: India vs Australia, T20 World Cup 2016, Match 31 at Mohali: Key battles

A fully fit Shami is one of the better bowlers around the world and a great option to have. His ability to swing the ball as well as hit the deck with pace makes him a potent weapon. His figures of 87 wickets in 47 ODI’s gives complete justification to his capabilities. Yet, India have left him out of the starting XI for the first three games, and bringing in experienced Ashish Nehra and young Jasprit Bumrah. Both the bowlers have played every single T20I for India since the start of the year, which has coincided with team’s good form. But small hint of cracks were starting to appear in Bumrah’s bowling in the last game against Bangladesh, even though he bowled beautifully at the death. Hence, the question that will probably be playing in MS Dhoni’s mind will be, “Should I play the experienced Shami or the youngster Bumrah in Mohali”? ALSO READ: India vs Australia, T20 World Cup 2016: Plans to unsettle Virat Kohli have gone in vain, admits Shane Watson

At this moment, Dhoni might not bring in any changes in squad, more so for a bowler whose yorkers have been compared to Lasith Malinga. While playing Shami has it’s pro’s, the decision to not play him would make more sense. Both Nehra and Bumrah have been very good in the tournament so far, hence leaving them out will be injustice to their contribution. Also, knowing the Australian’s they would love a bowler bowling fast deliveries at them, and Shami’s bowling style would most definitely suit them. The most important factor for why he shouldn’t be chosen is his lack of match practice. In a must-win game, throwing a bowler who has not played a competitive game in one year would be a huge risk India cannot afford.

Finally, even though some section believes Shami can handle pressure situations and deserves his place, his inclusion in the playing XI will come at a huge cost, something which India cannot afford at this moment. When the toss takes place at Mohali and Dhoni announces his team, do not expect to hear Mohammad Shami’s name in the playing XI, which will be the right call.

(R Narayan is a reporter with CricketCountry, and is an ardent cricket and football enthusiast (big Manchester United fan). Having followed Cricket since 2003, he likes high scoring matches as well as good fast bowling. His twitter handle is @RNarayan24nov)