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Mohammad Shami’s mantra of success carries important message

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Cricinfo

Mohammad Shami has been a rock for India in Test cricket and also in limited-overs internationals, but the longest format with the red ball is where the right-arm pacer’s abilities truly come to the fore. As one of the most dangerous fast bowlers who knows his trade of seam bowling extremely well, Shami is the driving force behind India’s domination in Test cricket. 

The right-arm fast bowler has not only been consistent with his line and lengths as well as mixing up the pace to pick wickets, but his accuracy with the ball is sort of unmatched, apart from, of course, Jasprit Bumrah. 

The pitches in Indian subcontinent have never been fast-bowling friendly, even though the region has produced some of the best bowlers such as Imran Khan and Kapil Dev in cricket’s rich history. Those plying their trade as a fast bowler have had to rely on their ability to move the ball around off the seam and also indulge in activities like swinging the ball, but not all have had the impact as strong as Shami. 

That Shami has been a vital cog in India’s fast bowling unit can be understood by the fact that he is the third highest wicket-taker—175 wickets in 47 Tests—behind Ishant Sharma (238 wickets in 77 Tess) and spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (362 wickets in 70 Tests) in the last decade 2010-20. 

Shami’s performance also highlights the fact that he made his Test debut in late 2013—in Sachin Tendulkar’s final Test series at home—while Ishant and Ashwin had made their debuts much earlier. In that series against West Indies, Shami showcased how dangerous he can be moving the SG cricket ball, bamboozling the West Indies batsmen with deliveries like nip-backer which they had no answer to. 

Also, another debatable aspect of Shami’s bowling is the way he presents his seam, which at times remains upright till the ball goes on to rest in the wicketkeeper’s gloves. 

The Indian pacer is all set to help his side defend the Border-Gavaskar Trophy which they had claimed Down Under last time when they toured Australia. The task is not going to be easy at all, given that the home side will field its best players including Steve Smith, David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne, who all have been raring to go against the world No 1 team India. 

Shami will be forming a vital opening ball pair with Jasprit Bumrah, who was one of the architects of India’s win in the last series. While the entire cricketing world marvels at the scintillating talent that Bumrah is, the others such as Shami have had to perfect their art to become masters in their trade. And one of the key rules, as per Shami, is to ensure that the ball releases and lands at the exact spot where you want it to. 

Shami told BCCI.tv:

“My focus area has been the red ball and I am working on my lengths and seam movement. I have always felt that once you start pitching the ball at the lengths you desire, you can succeed in different formats. I have done well with the white ball and now spending time in the nets bowling with the red ball.”

Working together for a common goal is what keeps this Indian side going and Shami said this trait will be crucial for them in the Test series in Australia.

“The success of this group is largely because of the camaraderie we share among ourselves,”

he said.

“There is no real secret as such but it lies in each other’s strengths. We have a common goal and all of us look to collectively achieve that.”

Whatever the outcome of the upcoming series be, what is there as takeaway for the young and budding fast bowlers is that they have to know and ensure that the ball lands where they want it to, and also, they have to hunt together in packs and not individually to ensure that their team prevails. 

Whether this Indian bowling attack is able to achieve all this which would help them win in Australia, is something that remains to be seen.