Mohammed Siraj or Arshdeep Singh - Who should make the way for Kuldeep Yadav?

India’s bold move to select four spinners was a pivotal talking point when the T20 World Cup 2024 squad came out.
Siraj Arshdeep?width=963&height=541&resizemode=4
While both have performed well as expected, India will have to drop one until the tracks are exaggeratingly pace-friendly.

India’s bold move to select four spinners was a pivotal talking point when the T20 World Cup 2024 squad came out. Then, India didn’t even play their premium spinner, Kuldeep Yadav, in the initial phase of the tournament. The team persisted with all three pacers - Jasprit Bumrah, Arshdeep Singh, and Mohammed Siraj - along with Hardik Pandya in the US leg.

The decks in the US leg, offering excessive seam movement and variable bounce, enabled India to continue with as many as four seamers in the XI. However, the idea to go with an additional spinner in the squad will finally be in use as India play the Super Eight matches. The tournament will pan out on different grounds in Caribbean countries, and the day game will bring more spinners into the play.

Hence, India might have to drop one of Mohammed Siraj and Arshdeep Singh to accommodate a spinner in the XI. Jasprit Bumrah can’t be dropped; his place is as safe as anything. Hardik Pandya, the other speedster, provides so much balance to the unit and can’t be dropped.

Also Read: Why did India select four spinners for T20 World Cup 2024?

While both have performed well as expected, India will have to drop one until the tracks are exaggeratingly pace-friendly. Stats-wise, Arshdeep Singh has bowled better than Mohammed Siraj in the first leg. Arshdeep took 7 wickets at an average of 10.71 and a strike rate of 10.28 compared to a solitary wicket by Mohammed Siraj in three innings.

The most significant reason to persist with Arshdeep is the variety he brings with his left-arm angle, which makes him potent against RHBs. Arshdeep’s natural angle across the right-handers makes him arduous to play, and he can also bring the ball in at pace, as visible in the US leg. Shayan Jahangir was stuck in his crease when Arshdeep nipped one back at speed on the first delivery of the game and has dismissed plenty of batters with his nip-backers with the new ball.

While Siraj has bowled well, he hasn’t really bowled as many wicket-taking deliveries or generated as much swing as Arshdeep in the powerplay. Arshdeep has been prudent enough to pitch fuller in the first six overs and duly awarded. While he has dismissed four batters and conceded only 5.17 runs per over, Siraj hasn’t got any wickets in the powerplay.

The swing will be available, even if for a couple of overs due to the morning starts. Siraj isn’t really a swing bowler; he can hit the deck hard and extract anything in the pitch. The slowish surfaces, offering some turn, in most West Indies’ grounds won’t bring pacers as much into the game in the middle overs, so the key would be to get anything early on before turning into the typical T20 bowler.

There’s not much to separate between them in whatever they have bowled in slog overs this World Cup. Both have nailed their yorkers well and haven’t erred too many times. Skill-wise, Arshdeep is better than Siraj, for his balls into the blockhole have fewer chances of being hit, even if they don’t land at the right spot.

That angle often makes it arduous to get under the ball, something Siraj can’t afford. Arshdeep has more margin for error than Siraj in the death overs, for his low full-tosses are generally heavy and arduous to get underneath. Arshdeep has fetched more success than Siraj generally in yorkers.

Another aspect of Arshdeep’s bowling that gives him an edge over Siraj is the use of slower ones. While Arshdeep has a few slower ones on whom he has shown ample control, Mohammed Siraj doesn’t really bowl as many slower balls and attempts yorkers mostly. On slow tracks, the off-pace deliveries might be more lethal than yorkers, and both have erred significantly while going very full in the IPL.

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Further, Arshdeep also has a sharp short ball that can rush even the best pace-hitters. He gets that extra bounce and hurries the pacers, a feature that might be helpful in venues like Antigua.

Andries Gous is generally a fine player of short bowling, but Arshdeep managed to extract additional bounce, which proved enough for the batter to mistime the ball. It hit the upper part of the bat and went in the hands of mid-off. A player who plays pull shots well was done by the same shot since Arshdeep bowls with a higher release, extracting more bounce off the surface.

While the primary roles matter more than the secondary ones, Arshdeep is also a better batter than Siraj. Arshdeep can use his long handles and whack a few out of the park with the bat. Sometimes, the lower-order runs make a massive difference, as visible in the New York leg.

It would be really harsh on Siraj, but India must persist with Arshdeep. Several factors indicate that Arshdeep has more to offer than Siraj. Unless the team drops one of the two spin bowling allrounders, Mohammed Siraj might have to make the way for Kuldeep Yadav.

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