Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Riding on veteran pacer Mohammed Shami’s five-wicket haul, India beat New Zealand confidently on Sunday to cement their place at the top of the table in the 2023 World Cup group stage.

After remaining in the bench for four matches, Shami was included in the playing XI for the first time in the mega event in star all-rounder Hardik Panya’s absence due to injury. The speedster returned with a brilliant performance to script the all-important victory for India.

Former India batsman Suresh Raina feels that Shami should remain in the squad even if Pandya returns for India’s next match against England in Lucknow on Sunday.

“Shami, (Mohammed) Siraj, (Jasprit) Bumrah Jadeja, Kuldeep, Hardik - this I feel is the best combination for this World Cup,” said the 2011 World Cup winner during an interview.

“Now that Shami has taken this five-wicket haul, Rohit has more options with three attacking bowlers who can operate in the death overs as well. It is some relief for Hardik as well because when these three bowl, the pressure will be waved off a bit. He can create pressure in his own way,” the former southpaw added.