Mohammed Shami is Indian cricket’s go-to fast bowler in all conditions and in all formats. In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah – out with a back injury – Shami has taken up the lead role in the Indian pace attack. Whenever India have needed an experienced fast bowler in any format, Shami has put his hand up. Be it as the last-minute replacement for the T20 World Cup when he hadn’t played the format for close to a year or putting up a whole-hearted spell with the old ball on barren pitches in Test matches at home, Shami has been an all-weather man for India and a delight for captains. He is also one of the principal characters of India’s menacing pace battery that made them a force in overseas conditions.
After putting up a good show in the three Tests that he played in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Shami took no time in adjusting to white-ball cricket. In the first ODI against Australia at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, he breathed fire with the ball and ran through Australia’s middle-order by picking up the wickets of Josh Inglis, Cameron Green, and Marcus Stoinis. Shami’s 3/17 in 6 overs, helped India bowl Australia out for 188 on Friday.
India did lose a few wickets in the chase early but KL Rahul (75*) and Ravindra Jadeja (45*) put up an unbeaten century stand to take India home.
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After the match, Shami was asked whether ODI cricket has become increasingly difficult for bowlers as batters all across the globe take advantage of the flat pitches and look to attack. The right-arm pacer said, India, as a team, doesn’t let the conditions or the format to dictate terms. They believe they are the best in all conditions.
“There are a lot of add-ons in white-ball cricket. You get a free hit for a no-ball and then you can’t get out too. Toh bowlers ke against mein kafi cheezein hai (There are things against the bowlers). It changes according to the format. But as far as our team is concerned, it doesn’t matter whether we are playing at home or abroad. I don’t think there is any question mark on the Indian team. Hum kisi bhi condition mein honge, hum sabse age hai. Hume kar ke bhi dikhaya hai. humne unko ghar pe jake bhi haraya hai toh apne ghar mein toh sochne ka sawal hi nahi hai (We are ahead of every team irrespective of the conditions. We have shown it in the past too. We have beaten them in their backyard so there is no question of worrying when we are playing at home),” Shami told reporters in Mumbai.
Shami said he felt confident the moment the ball left his hand smoothly in his second spell on Friday. “It felt alright right from the first ball of the second spell. The ball was coming off nicely from the point of release,” Shami said
“We talk about the seam position or off the deck, but the focus was to keep the ball in good areas because they were playing on the back-foot. My mindset was to pitch the ball a little further with a slip in place, as I had done in the first spell,” he explained.
Shami said it was pleasing to see Rahul playing a key role with the bat after a long period of struggle with the bat and criticism from almost all corners.
“He has played so many good innings in the past. It happens sometimes that luck does not favour you, or things are not working out well if you are trying to do something,” Shami said.
“The pressure (on Rahul) was certainly there, we had lost so many wickets in quick succession but the way he rebuilt, it was very nice to see that one of our players has made runs in a pressure situation,” Shami added.