FOR SOMEBODY, who was India’s second highest wicket-taker in the 2015 World Cup in Australia, Mohammed Shami knows how to perform on the world stage and play his part for the Indian team. With 17 wickets during the 2015 World Cup, Shami played a key role in the Indian team’s march to the semi-finals and the Bengal pacer has shown the same kind of form in ODI in the last six months.
Shami has taken 22 wickets in 13 ODIs since last October and his tally has been the joint highest for a Indian pacer during the same period along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Shami, who is playing for Kings XI Punjab in IPL, has been clocking speeds in excess of 145 KPH this season and the pacer’s focus has been on his fitness, a thing which he says has improved his game and found him his rhythm.
“My focus has been my fitness and I have been working on this since the last 18 months. My aim was to improve my game and I understood it will be better for the team also. After my injury, I did not play ODI’s for long. But there have been some outstanding changes for me in the last six months. I am happy with my performance. I lost weight and I feel that my body has the rhythm, almost similar to what is was when I started my career. My aim will be to maintain the same kind of rhythm in a important series like World Cup.”
“Now there is a lot of difference in my bowling as compared to how I was bowling three years ago. It is a result of the hard work with the coaches and the Indian team too gave me confidence. The whole team backed me as I tried to improve my fitness levels and it also included NCA, team management and other staff. I took this as a challenge from my heart and I accepted the challenge and the results are showing,” said Shami, who has so far taken a total of 113 wickets in 63 matches including six four-wicket hauls.
The 28-year-old speedster was named along with Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the 15-member Indian team announced by the Indian selectors on Monday for this year’s World Cup. The pacer had played with a knee injury in the 2015 World Cup and did not play in ODI’s for more than two years before he made his comeback in ODI’s in 2017. While the previous World Cup was played in Australia, this year’s World Cup will be played in England, a country where he has claimed 21 wickets in eight Test matches and six wickets in three ODI’s.
“I am very happy that I have got a second chance to play in a World Cup. Allah ka shukar hai. The selectors showed faith in me. As far my performance is concerned, the way I performed in the 2015 World Cup, how I built my confidence, I hope that my confidence will be more than expectations for the World Cup this year. Whatever I have achieved in the last 6-8 months, I want to carry the confidence forward into the World Cup and do well for the Indian team,” shared Shami.
In this year’s IPL, Shami has been the highest wicket-taker so far for Kings XI Punjab with 10 wickets in eight matches. The pacer is currently on the sixth spot in the list of leading wicket-takers this season and also claimed his best haul in IPL with a three-wicket haul against Mumbai Indians last week.
“Our skipper R Ashwin and I are ready to take the pressure with various combinations of bowling unit. As a fast bowler, my job is to provide breakthrough in the initial overs before sinners come into play. It is a completely different game in the death overs as fast bowlers can also get hit for runs. But these pressure situations always help. Playing IPL matches helps in terms of fitness and mental preparation too and to play in a challenging tournament such as IPL before the World Cup always helps mentally as well as physically,” concluded Shami.