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Mohammed Shami fails fitness test, out of Afghanistan Test squad

India’s pace spearhead Mohammed Shami was ruled out of the one-off Test against Afghanistan and the A tour to England later this month as he failed a fitness test at the National Cricket Academy here on Monday. It’s learnt that he had been carrying a hamstring injury that was hampering him. Consequently , the selectors have drafted in uncapped Delhi pacer Navdeep Saini, who had a prolific Ranji season.

Shami, prone to injuries, was largely warming the benches in the Indian Premier League too-he played just four matches for Delhi Daredevils and was far from his influential best, managing only three wickets from four outings and bleeding nearly eight runs an over. Realising he was clearly not 100 percent, the franchise management had advised him to sit out of the IPL, after which he went to the NCA for rehabilitation. He had also missed the charity T2oI match between World XI and West Indies at Lord’s on May 31.

“The All-India Senior Selection Committee has named Navdeep Saini as Mohammed Shami’s replacement in the Indian Test team for the upcoming Test against Afghanistan.

The announcement came after Mohammed Shami failed to clear the fitness test at NCA, Bengaluru,” a BCCI released said.

It’s unclear whether he failed the mandatory Yo-Yo test, or the routine fitness tests. Either way, the selectors reckoned it was not worth risking an injured Shami for a Test against newcomers Afghanistan, which even Virat Kohli has given a slip for a county stint before the England series.

The setback is the latest Shami has endured since returning from South Africa, where he scripted India’s memorable win in the last Test in Johannesburg with a five-wicket haul in the second innings. Soon after he returned to India, he was taken to the court by his wife for alleged harassment, a reason he lost the central contract, which though was reinstated after the board’s probe committee gave him a clean chit. In between, he also escaped an accident in Dehradun, where he was training.

For Saini, though, it’s a fitting reward for his consistency. He was Ranji runners-up Delhi’s most deceptive bowler last season-snaring 34 wickets at 22.73 in eight matches— and impressed the selectors with his pace, control and maturity. Moreover, the 25-year-old can bowl long spells with unflagging intensity. He followed it up with heartening performances in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, wherein he picked eight wickets in six matches. He though was unlucky to not have made his IPL debut for Royal Challengers Bangalore, a baffling eventuality as RCB were struggling with their bowlers.

Last year, he enjoyed a fruitful A tour to South Africa, in which he nabbed seven wickets in two four-day games, as well. Some of his wickets included Test batsmen like opener Stephen Cook and Andile Phehlukwayo (twice). He enjoyed his time with coach Rahul Dravid.

“Rahul Dravid sir gave me a lot of valuable tips about variation consistency. Also spending time with Ashish Nehra at RCB during IPL was also of great help. My pace has increased and I have more control on my swing,” he said.
Samson fails Yo-Yo test

Just when seemed to plot his way back to the India A team, Sanju Samson, picked purely as a batsman after his IPL exploits, failed the Yo-Yo Test and was replaced by former India U-19 captain Ishan Kishan, who had put up an impressive show for Mumbai Indians in the IPL.

Squad: Ajinkya Rahane (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, M Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Karun Nair, Dinesh Karthik (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Shardul Thakur.

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