Mohammed Shami - A story of comebacks, hard work & incredible success
The time when a bunch of young fast bowlers like Pankaj Singh, Varun Aaron, Jaydev Unadkat, Dhawal Kulkarni and many others were trying their hard to make a place in the Indian dressing room, a young Bengal pacer made his debut in 2013. Within a very few time, he became one of India's most valuable asset in ODI cricket, Mohammad Shami.
After a very productive 2012-13 domestic season, Shami was selected for the ODI series against Pakistan and got his opportunity in the last ODI match against Pakistan at Delhi. He immediately made an impact with his speed and accuracy. Then he got opportunities against Australia, New Zealand and was part of the Asia Cup 2014 too.
Shami grabbed those chances really well and came as a blessing in disguise for Indian fast bowling at that time. He became the second fastest Indian to take 50 ODI wickets after the completion of Asia Cup 2014.
Shami was rewarded for his stellar limited over performances and got an opportunity to represent his country in red-ball cricket against West Indies in the farewell series of Sachin Tendulkar. His debut was like a fairytale story. He took 9 wickets for 118 runs and displayed the art of reverse-swing amazingly.
Any story is not complete without any twist and turns, that's what happened in his case too. Shami went through injuries, criticisms, bad time with the ball and even personal issues after playing for India but his dedication towards cricket was unrivalled.
Overseas Tours and an Awful Shami
Mohammed Shami was just rising and rising. He was at the peak of his career. No one was expecting a rough patch at that stage but that came. He just managed to pick 6 and 10 wickets respectively on South Africa and New Zealand tour respectively. India's England tour was like a nightmare for him. Only 5 wickets in 3 matches with an average of 73.20 were nothing less than a disaster on any cricket ground.
As a result, he was omitted from the opening Test of Border-Gavaskar trophy. He came back for the next 3 matches and ended the tour with 15 wickets under his belt at an average of 35.80. Despite having a mediocre time with the ball, he was named in the 15-man squad for 2015 World Cup. The reason being his wicket-taking ability.
Impressive World Cup 2015
Even after an average season of 2014-15 with the red-ball still, Shami was India's spearhead in ODI cricket. Shami's sheer pace of 140+ on the bouncy Australian pitches started derailing every opponent, right from the beginning of World Cup.
He picked up at least 2 wickets in every match that he played, except that semifinal encounter against Australia. He conceded 68 runs from his 10 overs quota in that match. He finished his World Cup journey with 17 wickets with an average of 17.30 and an economy of just 4.80.
Later BCCI revealed that Shami was suffering from severe pain in his left knee from the beginning of the WC 2015. He also underwent knee surgery after the completion of the tournament. From there on injuries and comebacks became an unwanted part of his cricketing career.
Injuries and Comebacks
Mohammed Shami played the whole World Cup with pain and swelling in his left knee as he didn't want to break the momentum of the team in the middle of the tournament. Not just team management, he was aware of the outcome too. Still, he continued to play cricket that shows his mental grit and determination for his cricket.
After almost six grievous months of the surgery, Shami started playing cricket again and was apart of 2015 Vijay Hazare & Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy. He missed Asia Cup, South Africa's tour of India and got injured in the midway of England & New Zealand's tour of India. And this time hamstring issues were the problem instead of the knee injury.
However, he was selected for India's tour of South Africa and bagged 15 wickets in the 3-match series without any fitness concerns. In June 2018, he suffered again due to fitness. Now he failed to pass the Yo-Yo test and was ruled out of the historic Test against Afghanistan.
Once again he came back in the Indian side and this time with some supreme fitness. He was part of the 10 out of 11 Test matches that India played against England, West Indies and Australia. He missed the only match due to workload.
However, injuries were not just the only problem that he faced in 2018. Shami was accused of some serious allegations by his wife, Hasin Jahan. Match-fixing was one of them. Later BCCI's Anti-Corruption unit cleared him of all corruption charges.
What's coming ahead for him?
At present Shami is going through a very fine phase. Recently he picked up 16 wickets in the Test series against Australia with an impressive average of 26.19. Now he is also making his way into the limited over setup. In the recently held ODI series against Australia, he bowled really well and partnered Bhuvneshwar Kumar really well with both new and old ball. He picked up 5 wickets in 3 matches with an average of 30.20.
With this performance, probably he will be India's third seamer in the World Cup 2019. As it is just six months away from here, he can play a crucial role for his team. Not just the World Cup, Test Championship is also coming soon.
He is probably one of India's finest bowler in Test cricket at the moment. His combination with Jasprit Bumrah is also working for Team India. Both of them are really productive and ruthless especially when it comes to red-ball cricket.
With a lot of opportunities and challenges are ahead of him, he has a chance to register his name among "India's finest fast-bowlers of all time". From here only time can tell you about him.