Fit-again Mohammad Shami sounded excited about partnering fellow Punjab Kings speedsters Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith at the forthcoming IPL 2021. He, however, wants to take one game at a time without worrying about qualifying for the playoffs.
Mohammad Shami had a great season last year when he scalped 20 wickets at a strike rate of 16.10 across 14 matches. However, the lack of support from the other end meant the Mohali-based franchise failed to close out a few tight games. Shami welcomed the purchases of Richardson and Meredith, terming the current bowling attacking “more balanced”.
“The squad is looking more balanced. Both of them have got pace, and I am looking forward to bowling in tandem with them,” Mohammad Shami told TOI.
One thing that was amiss in the now-rechristened Punjab Kings last year was consistency, thus failing to book a playoffs berth for the sixth season running. Ahead of the 14th edition, Mohammad Shami doesn’t want to look too far ahead.
“In IPL, you can’t predict anything. Yes, after mid-season, you get a clearer idea. My only focus is on taking wickets and winning matches for Punjab Kings,” Shami explained.
The KL Rahul-led side’s opening game against the Rajasthan Royals on April 12 will be a comeback match for Mohammad Shami, who had fractured his left forearm in the first Test against Australia on December 19. He even missed the recently-concluded home season against England, instead using the prolonged break to prepare strongly for the IPL.
“It was an unfortunate injury. Now that I have recovered, I can’t wait to hit the ground running for the Punjab Kings in the upcoming IPL...It is tough to make a comeback after an injury layoff. At the same time, it has given me more time to prepare for the IPL.
“The T20 is not an easy format for the fast bowlers, but once I knew that I would not be fit for the Test series against England at home, I targeted the IPL as my comeback tournament,” Mohammad Shami added.
The 30-year-old played only one of the three T20Is against Australia in December last year.
“The more you take care of your body, the longer your career will be” – Mohammad Shami
‘Workload management is the latest catchphrase in Indian cricket. It has been used many a time to justify Jasprit Bumrah’s exclusion from the national team. Recently, Virat Kohli mentioned it to explain why Hardik Pandya didn’t bowl at all in the first two ODIs against England too.
Mohammad Shami, too, seems to be in favour of the concept, saying that managing the workload of faster bowlers helps prolong their careers.
“Workload management is something that you can’t ignore anymore. We fast bowlers need to take extra care of our bodies because of the amount of cricket being played...Age has nothing to do with it. Workload is something that a fast bowler should monitor from a very young age. The most difficult job in cricket is fast bowling; the more you take care of your body, the longer your career will be,” Mohammad Shami elaborated.
India are due to travel to England to play the World Test Championship final in June, followed by a five-Test series in August – a tour where India will need their seamers to step up. Mohammad Shami, though, once again emphasised the need to make short-term plans in cricket.
“When you play long enough, you stop making long-term plans. It never works. I have learnt it the hard way, and I take one tournament at a time. At present, my sole focus is on the IPL; I am not thinking about anything else. I am fit, I have got my rhythm back and I am confident of doing well in the IPL,” Mohammad Shami concluded.
The 2021 edition of the cash-rich league will kickstart on April 9, with defending champions Mumbai Indians taking on the Royal Challengers Bangalore in Chennai.