In IPL 2024, Mohammed Siraj hasn’t been amongst the wickets for Royal Challengers Bengaluru and Zaheer Khan, the former India left-arm fast-bowlers, believes it is a matter of him finding the zone in terms of preparation and game time to be back at his best version. IPL 2023 saw Siraj pick 19 wickets in 14 matches at an average of 19.73 and economy rate of 7.5, with ten scalps coming in power-play. But in the ongoing tournament, Siraj hasn’t been able to reach those heights, picking four wickets in six innings at an average of 57.25 and economy rate of 10.40. IPL 2024: Royal Challengers Bengaluru Coach Andy Flower Reacts Following Loss Against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Says ‘Every Game Is Like Semifinal for Us Now’.

His power-play numbers have plummeted too – picking just one wicket at an economy rate of 12.3. Siraj was even left out of RCB’s match against Sunrisers Hyderabad earlier this week, but Zaheer feels Siraj should partner with fast-bowling spearhead Jasprit Bumrah in the T20 World Cup, starting from June 1 in the West Indies and USA.

“Siraj is someone who’s been doing very well and it’s just demands of the format right now that at times, one can have a lean patch. It might also be a product of teams not winning games and it’s just that the frustration of it is getting to you, leading to move away from the processes. But for him, it is going to be as simple as possible if he needs to get back to his potent best. He needs to think about wickets, attack those stumps, bowl as fast as possible, look for that early swing – all of this we have seen are a part of his success formula.”

“For him, its just about finding that zone again with regards to preparation, game time and getting right up there. I still feel he should be a part of T20 World Cup because Shami not being available, it becomes about how to use a certain resource and with regard to that, he’s right up there,” said Zaheer, an IPL expert with JioCinema, the official streaming partner of IPL 2024, in a select virtual interaction.

Zaheer, a member of India’s 2011 ODI World Cup triumph, also took note of Avesh Khan being impressive for Rajasthan Royals. “What has also impressed me when I am looking at Avesh is the clarity of thought when he’s approaching the game and how he is enjoying the battle out there. Avesh is doing all those things in terms of right attitude, approach and is up for a challenge against aggressive batters in various scenarios right now for him to be successful in this IPL.”

Zaheer also thinks Arshdeep Singh should make it to the T20 World Cup squad after being present in the 2022 edition of the tournament in Australia, where he picked ten scalps. "The team selection is still two weeks away but Arshdeep Singh is a serious hopeful for the T20 World Cup and the selectors will be looking at him.”

“Khaleel Ahmed, Mohsin Khan and Yash Dayal will also be closely watched by the selectors. If Hardik Pandya is fit and available to bowl, then he also provides depth and balance to the Indian bowling attack."

Zaheer thinks Rishabh Pant will be the first-choice wicketkeeper-batter for India in the T20 World Cup, especially after making great progress in all aspects of the game since his competitive cricket return in IPL 2024, following a car crash in December 2022.

"I'm very happy with how he is progressing. When the question was posed to me before this IPL, I wasn't that confident (about his successful return to the game), especially with him being away from the game for such a long time. But he has quickly got into the groove and showed that he hasn't lost his touch in terms of skills. I am absolutely sure that things will be even brighter for him from now onwards.”

“But in the last six-seven matches of DC, his progress, leadership, skills and catches plus stumpings in the wicket-keeping has been superbly impressive and is ticking boxes along the way. Also, If you see what the Indian team is looking for, then it's of a wicketkeeper who can bat in the middle-order, and there’s not hesitation in me that he will be there for the T20 World Cup."

With Mayank Yadav and Umran Malik being the young speedsters unearthed by the IPL in recent few years, Zaheer thinks the duo can serve Indian cricket for a long period provided they remain fit. "Yes, there is no doubt about that (they are India's future in fast-bowling). I feel that if you are able to bowl quick, then you got to bowl quick and rest of things like injuries which follow are just part and parcel of that whole process.” Virat Kohli’s Angry and Frustrated Reactions Go Viral As Royal Challengers Bengaluru Concede Highest Total in IPL History During RCB vs SRH Match (Watch Video).

“For them, it's just about understanding what it will take them to stay at the peak of their fitness and find a way which is going to work for your body, and style of bowling to be able to sustain it for longer time. It's not that everyone can come up and bowl that quick, if you have ability to bowl quick then that's a gift and you should really value that gift and do the rest of the things around it for you to be able to sustain it."

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Apr 19, 2024 11:34 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website