Mumbai: The ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 is turning out to be one with many surprises, disappointments and record breaking-cum-broken feats. Barring that, one has noticed a very interesting trend in this tournament. 350 has become the new 250 and the way batsmen are playing shots, it looks like the coaching manual needs a whole lot of redoing. Just imagine the plight of the bowler at the other end specially now when you have one extra fielder inside the circle and one less protection in the deep through the innings.
Many thought that this World Cup would only be a batsman’s delight but that’s certainly not the case and India’s promising seamer from Bengal, Mohammed Shami has just changed the story. With newer and improved sword-like-bats, batsmen seem to be smashing the cricket ball all across the corner, that sometimes leave the bowler clueless. And to add to that, it appears fans love to see the ball disappear or vanish into the stands.
But whatever be the case, Mohammed Shami has stood against the odds and now, as India go into the quarterfinals, Team India’s leader of pace attack is the second highest wicket -taker with 15 wickets, one short of Australian Mitchell Starc. Shami has the same number of wickets under his belt as New Zealand’s Trent Boult and Scottish bowler Josh Davey, but the 25-year-old has beaten the rest upping the ante with a credible average (12.60).
Team India pacer Mohammad Shami said he never felt any pressure playing at the international level as captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni handled him well and made him comfortable. (Photo: AFP)
So what has Shami done right for Team India? Besides clocking the 140kmph mark, he has been able to swing the leather ball both ways and has extracted steep bounce from the Australian wicket and has bowled an impeccable line and length.
Given India’s rough patch ahead of their World Cup campaign, the Men in Blue have done well to come out with six wins in as many games to enter the knockouts. One can highlight this achievement highly because of the bowlers who have bowled out their opposition all the six times.
Shami has been outstanding this World Cup and with his brilliance, has been able to claim key wickets at the top of the innings and has delivered every time for skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni – 4/35 against Pakistan, 2/30 against South Africa, 3/35 against West Indies, 3/41 against Ireland and 3/48 against Zimbabwe.
Shami, originally from Uttar Pradesh as a teenager moved from his small town of Sahaspur to the clubs of Kolkata, thus taking his first steps as a big fast bowler. Mind you, he has played only 15 First Class and 15 List A games when he was drafted into India’s ODI team to play Pakistan in New Delhi in January 2013. He tasted a record-breaking event in his ODI debut itself becoming the first Indian and only the eighth bowler to bowl four or more maidens – a feather in the cap.
Currently, India’s strike bowler, Shami, who turned a year older on March 9 has impressed both fans and critics with his art of seam bowling and he’s calmed the nerves of Ravi Shastri and the team management, who were badly in search of a leader after Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s lacklustre bowling.
Picking up key wickets of West Indies demolisher Chris Gayle and his teammate Darren Sammy, Pakistan’s ‘Boom Boom’ Shahid Afridi, ‘Tuk Tuk’ Misbah-ul-Haq, veteran Younis Khan, Shami is oozing confidence and has metamorphosed into a bowler who has become Dhoni’s go-to man.
Shami has credited his dream run at the World Cup to former Pakistan pacers, the ‘Rawalpindi Express’ Shoaib Akhtar, who advised him to shorten his run-up and increase his pace. Wasim Akram had reportedly told him not to compromise on speed as well.
The advice has certainly paid off for the budding pacer. The beginnings were tough and it looks like Shami has aced all his challenges coming out with flying colours. After migrating to Kolkatta, he used to sleep in a club tent or shared hotel rooms and earned Rs.500 per match in the initial stages of his career.
Can Mohammed Shami do a Zaheer Khan and enable India to claim the trophy once again? While its still not clear whether Team India will win the World Cup or not, one can say though that he’s got the ‘Mauka’!