Team India all-rounder Shahbaz Ahmed last played an international match during the tour of Bangladesh in late 2022. Since then he has played at the domestic level as well as in the Indian Premier League and now has a chance to rekindle his career with national colors in the form of the upcoming T20I series against Ireland.
The left-arm spinner is included in the 15-man squad and has to play the role usually played by Ravindra Jadeja or Axar Patel for the team. Shahbaz is one of two players in the squad along with Washington Sundar and is in contention to make an appearance in the three T20Is against Ireland.
Shahbaz has proven in the past that he is a versatile player with the bat and can also contribute with the ball when required. He hasn’t had the best of IPL campaigns for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), especially compared to his exploits in 2022, but his ability certainly stands him in good stead.
On that note, let’s take a look at three reasons why team India should play Shahbaz Ahmed in T20Is against Ireland.
India squad for T20I series against Ireland
Jasprit Bumrah (Capt), Ruturaj Gaikwad (vc), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Tilak Varma, Rinku Singh, Sanju Samson (wk), Jitesh Sharma (wk), Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Shahbaz AhmedRavi Bishnoi, Prasidh Krishna, Arshdeep Singh, Mukesh Kumar, Avesh Khan.
#1 The Spinners have a relatively good record at The Village
Despite the small boundaries at the Malahide Cricket Club Ground in Dublin, the spinners did quite well at the venue. Kuldeep Yadav, Tabraiz Shamsi and Yuzvendra Chahal mark their presence in the list of most successful T20I bowlers here.
Kuldeep has taken seven wickets in just two appearances, while Chahal also has the same number of wickets but in three appearances.
A one-pitch belter has been mentioned for the series opener, which works in Shahbaz Ahmed’s case too, as he is not the biggest spinner of the ball.
He could just stay in tight areas and change the pace to help the team gain control in the middle overs, or even in the powerplay if needed.
#2 Good matchup option against a righty stacked hitting unit
Ireland’s team is loaded with right-handed batsmen from top to bottom. Right from Paul Stirling to Locran Tucker and Harry Tector, it’s a treasure trove of right-handed batsmen all over, which benefits the lone left-arm spinner in the Indian team.
Washington Sundar, being a left-hander, has a good record against left-handers and so does Ravi Bishnoi, who uses googly well against left-handers.
It would be difficult for the aforementioned duo to control a right pair in the fold, especially if they are set. A stabilizing presence in the form of Shahbaz could be a strong matchup, even if it means restriction and not necessarily wickets.
#3 He had a solid Deodhar Trophy campaign
Shahbaz Ahmed’s main competitor for a place in the starting line-up is undoubtedly Washington Sundar, who is also desperate to make a comeback after a rather unfortunate spell with injuries in the recent past.
Shahbaz had a solid campaign in Deodhar where he took 12 wickets in six matches, with only Vidwath Kaverappa ending up with more wickets than him in the tournament. He finished with a modest economy of 4.14 and a bowling average of 19.50.
While Shahbaz’s recent exploits have been in the 50-over format, the important aspect to note is that he is in very good pace.
In addition, it can be used as a floater if needed. In the other case, his presence in the lower-middle order adds depth to the batting order.
Will Shahbaz Ahmed find a place in the XI for the T20I series against Ireland? Tell us your opinion.
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