Suddenly emerged as India’s savior in Red Ball Cricket, Mohammed Shami had played only as many as 16 ODIs for the Indian team prior to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. In these matches he had managed to pick as many as 26 wickets at an average of over 30.
For the uninitiated, Shami had been the spearhead of India’s pace attack in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 and India’s semi-final exit in that tournament, injuries and sudden slump in form had forced him to be sidelined from the team.
From being one of the go to man in the pace department in the shortest format to struggling to find a regular place for himself until a few months to the World Cup in England, Shami’s progress in ODI cricket was no progress at all but was in fact a gradual decline.
His case for a place in the team was not helped by the fact that Indian pacer Jasprit Bumrah was peaking on end, power hitting all-rounder Hardik Pandya was ensuring that he could be a dependable bowling option himself.
However, it was in 2018 that his career took a massive turnaround. Shami failed to clear the mandatory fitness yo-yo test for the Test match against Afghanistan and it was then that he decided enough was enough and they would try and improve his lifestyle to help improve revive Shami’s International career.
Shami was not alone in this journey. He took this pledge along with fitness trainer Shankar Basu and together started the mission of Shami 2.0.
"He failing the fitness test was a blessing in disguise," Basu was quoted as saying by Shami.
And Shami 2.0 began with his improved fitness. Behind the success of Shami in the recently concluded Test series against South Africa and Bangladesh, was his improved and raised fitness levels. Shami was steaming in with all his might and was willing to bowl in long spells of bowling to bend his back and extract that extra amount of bounce and all of that culminated into the venomous spells of bowling that he produced in Test matches recently.
Courtesy his brilliant run in Test match cricket and even in the limited opportunities he has received in the shorter format of the game, India’s pace attack is arguably one of the best in the world with each bowler playing a specific role in the bowling attack.
While Shami brilliantly takes the responsibility to extract reverse swing, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav are superb with the new ball. Ishant then more often than not joins Shami to get the reverse swing.
Similarly, in limited overs cricket, each of the bowlers have a specific role which they fulfil to the best of their ability and in turn the Indian bowling looks good.
Shami looks more enthusiastic, energised and effective than ever before and if he can continue his form for a few more years, there could be better signs for Indian cricket going forward and it could be a pleasant selection headache for Indian skipper ViratKohli and coach Ravi Shastri.
Indian cricket fans would hope that Shami 2.0 continues to thrive and get his name etched in the memories of the cricket fans forever.