Punjab Kings head coach Anil Kumble has confirmed that pacer Mohammed Shami, who broke his arm in December, has recovered completely and will be good to go for the forthcoming IPL season. Shami last took to a cricket field four months ago in the infamous Adelaide Test, where he hurt himself.
Punjab Kings have received a huge boost as the franchise’s head coach, Anil Kumble, has confirmed that seasoned pacer Mohammed Shami will be available for selection from match one, after successfully recovering from a fractured arm. Shami, Punjab’s highest wicket taker last season, broke his arm in December after being hit by a Pat Cummins bouncer and has since missed close to four months of international action. But the 30-year-old speedster will be back in action in a fortnight’s time for Punjab in an IPL season which could be key to his chances of making the World T20 squad.
“He is fine as far as I know. He is coming to the bio-bubble for the quarantine and he will be out in a few days. I know he hasn’t played any matches since his injury but he is good to go,” Kumble told Sportstar.
“We are really looking forward to him playing a few practice games and then getting ready for the first game.”
Shami will be a part of a rather expensive pace battery that also features Australia’s Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith. Punjab splashed the cash on the Aussie duo, paying a combined sum of INR 22 crore for them, but Kumble explained that the auction dynamics meant that the franchise had no option but to overspend. The Punjab Kings head coach added that they consciously went after players in order to add more depth and variety to the squad.
“I think in the smaller auctions, people tend to forget that the options are minimal. Every team wants to reinforce and fill the gaps and since the options are lesser, you tend to spend a lot more on the players. We wanted to have a squad which gives us options in case we want to rotate a few of our fast bowlers. Even our young Indian pacers are exciting. It is a fairly long tournament and the conditions will be pretty hot,” Kumble said.
Skipper KL Rahul began the 2020 season as the wicket-keeper, but the club then straddled between him and young Prabhsimran Singh for the slot behind the stumps. Rahul has currently went back to being a specialist fielder for India, but Kumble confirmed that the Karnataka man will be keeping wickets come the first game.
“K. L. will be starting as a wicketkeeper and then, we will take a call. He did a great job last year and he will continue this year as well.”
After enduring a horror start, Punjab, in IPL 2020, strung together a bunch of wins towards the end and came excruciatingly close to qualifying, only to lose to the Super Kings on the final day to bid goodbye to their season. The side, last season, was far from perfect, but Kumble is confident that the team will put up a much better showing and improve on their performance this time around.
“We should have closed out a few games. We were in a winning position. Even in the five consecutive wins last year, we took it right till the end. The other area, of course, where we can do better is our death bowling. And with the options we have, I am hopeful we will be able to fill the gap.”
Punjab Kings will play the first match of their season against Rajasthan Royals at the Wankhede on Monday, April 12.