India VS New Zealand: Mohammed Siraj did his best to cement his place in Team India
India's tour of New Zealand was a series that served little to no purpose for either side except for keeping up bilateral ties. In that sense, it was an excellent place to blood in new talent
However, that didn't necessarily happen – but that doesn't mean India have gone away from this series with no gains whatsoever.
For one, Hardik Pandya seems assured as a future T20I captain, and it seems a matter of when rather than if he will be handed the mantle in the shortest format of the game.
On the other, India gained some assurances in bolstering their pace battery.
Mohammed Siraj has long been part of India's set-ups across formats but has lost his way in T20I cricket lately.
A poor IPL 2022, where he was expensive in all phases of the game and didn't get as many wickets as he probably would have liked, didn't help his case either.
However, in the New Zealand series, he bowled like a man on a mission. He was steaming in with pace and intended to get the batters out as often as possible.
Little wonder then that he ended the series as the leading wicket-taker, having gotten six scalps at an average of 6.83 and an economy rate of 5.12 – impressive, no matter how you look at it.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Mohammed Siraj is adjudged Player of the Match for his brilliant bowling figures of 4/17 as the final T20I ends in a tie on DLS.<br><br>Scorecard - <a href="https://t.co/rUlivZ308H">https://t.co/rUlivZ308H</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NZvIND?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NZvIND</a> <a href="https://t.co/kSHPp8wFTx">pic.twitter.com/kSHPp8wFTx</a></p>— BCCI (@BCCI) <a href="https://twitter.com/BCCI/status/1595007914443689985?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 22, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
The team management had retained faith in the Hyderabad player in both ODI and Test cricket, but it now seems they might want to consider him an option in T20Is too.
He's different from the kind of bowlers India have – he will regularly look to crank up the speeds and hit over the 140 km/h mark, and he will more often than not bowl seam up and hit the hard lengths.
However, question marks remain over Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has lost a few yards of pace and looked off-colour during this series.
He was still reasonably economical, conceding runs at a respectable rate of 6.71 in the two matches he played. However, the fact he only took one wicket is concerning.
Still, there's a case to be made about keeping Bhuvneshwar Kumar around for the time being. He has plenty of experience and will be an excellent mentor to the younger bowlers on the side, many of whom still lack the kind of significant game experience the Meerut pacer has in spades.
For the other, he can still be lethal in the right conditions. Bhuvi's ability to get the ball to swing in the game's early stages remains his biggest strength.
And even if he's not bowling as quickly as he once could, he can still be a viable option in grounds or conditions that favour swing bowling.
Either way, there is no such thing as too many options, and India's bowling needs variety. Keeping Bhuvneshwar around even when younger, quicker pacers are coming will serve two purposes and thus is an option to consider instead of not feeling the veteran for selection any longer.
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