In what should be a heartening development for Virat Kohli and his team, Mohammed Shami will be able to continue bowling during the second day of the ongoing first Test between India and England at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot. The hosts’ batting coach and former all-rounder Sanjay Bangar confirmed the seamer’s availability for the remainder of the match.
During the press conference at the end of the opening day, the 44-year old revealed that the speedster's struggles were actually a result of muscular cramps rather than any serious injury.
Bangar said, “As the physio has told us, it was actually muscular cramps. And he (Shami) took an ice bath in that break (shortly before tea). He was fine to bowl after that. He is being monitored closely. And apart from the cramps, I don't think there is much to it. Hopefully, he will be fresher tomorrow. He will be fitter and raring to go tomorrow in the first session.”
Upon losing the toss on a flat surface, India saw the visitors pile on the runs to end the day at an imposing 311/4. Though they did not help themselves by dropping quite a few catches from the slip cordon, Joe Root’s maiden century on Asian soil as well as Moeen Ali’s unbeaten 99 helped England take the driver’s seat.
Kohli's problems compounded when Shami started cramping and had to be taken off the attack just before tea. Even though the 26-year old resumed bowling in the final session, he still ran in gingerly and could not bowl at full tilt even as the ball was reversing considerably. Him regaining adequate fitness could result in India taking the second new ball early on day 2.
Bangar felt, “You must have noticed that at that time there was a lot of reverse swing on offer. Shami was available to bowl, even Umesh put in a valiant effort. Once Shami was not available before tea and after tea for a particular amount of time, Umesh ran in well and got us that breakthrough (of Root). He was pretty impressive, getting the ball to reverse both ways so was Shami. That was the reason we felt that the wicket-taking possibility with the old ball was higher at that point.“
He added, “A couple of wickets - obviously they are four down at the moment. A couple of wickets, and we could make inroads quickly and wrap them up hopefully within a session and a half. So, you never know in cricket. It's just day one and we would have still been in a good position had we taken probably six wickets and conceded 30 or 40 fewer runs.”
Even though there were no signs of assistance for the spinners, the pitch might deteriorate as play goes on. Either way, India badly need a couple of early wickets on the second day to bring them back into the contest.