He’s consistently been among the wickets, but Shahbaz Nadeem isn’t upset that the call to play for the country hasn’t come yet. The left-arm spinner’s latest haul of wickets came during the recently-concluded India A tour of West Indies, in which took 15 wickets in two tests.
Nadeem took a five-wicket haul for the second time in the match to get India A to a big win over West Indies A in the first unofficial Test. He followed it up with another five-wicket haul in the third Test after missing the second Test due to a fever.
Many players with outstanding numbers in first-class and List A cricket never got a chance to play international cricket for different reasons. Nadeem may well end up on that list but at 30, he’s doing his best to make sure he doesn’t.
So what does he need to do to get the national selectors’ attention?
“Perhaps, I will have to get more wickets. Mera kaam perform karna hai (My job is to perform) and I am aware of the fact that I am fighting for a left-arm spinner’s position in the senior team.
“I will have to wait and continue performing well until a position gets created,” Nadeem told indianexpress.com.
It’s not the first time Nadeem has knocked on the national selectors’ door. In September 2018, he pounded on it by breaking a two-decade-old world record for the best bowling figures in List A cricket. In a Vijay Hazare Trophy match against Rajasthan, the Jharkhand spinner took 8 wickets for 10 runs in 10 overs, of which four were maidens.
He’s been playing domestic cricket since 2004 and has played 108 first-class, 98 List A and 117 T20 matches. He took 416 wickets in first-class matches, with five 10-wicket hauls. A consistent Ranji performer for Jharkhand, Shahbaz took 51 wickets in the 2015-16 Ranji Trophy, becoming the sixth bowler to claim fifty or more wickets in a Ranji season
After his record in Vijay Hazare, Nadeem had finally got a national selection in India’s T20 squad in November 2018 when West Indies was touring India. But he did not get a chance to play in any of the three T20 Internationals and the wait has not ended yet.
“I am of the view that the luck factor is another big thing in a cricketer’s career. Players who play domestic cricket and those who represent the country are equally talented,” he said.
“It’s the luck that makes you play for the country. The only thing I have with me is the hard work and consistency on the field and I will continue doing it,” Nadeem said.
Video of his 8/10 in Vijaya Hazare Trophy:
After a 15-year career and a number of brilliant performances, Nadeem remains determined to make it to Team India.
“Yes, I have turned 30 now and I am hopeful of playing for India in the next couple of years. I have consistently delivered in whichever format I got to play in the last two years. As a spinner, you have an edge of playing for a little longer time than the fast bowlers. So, I think the next two years belong to me,” he said.
His prospects are grimmer given a young Kuldeep Yadav has cemented his place in the national team.
“Kuldeep is a genuine wrist-spinner with all the variations and skills. I love watching him bowl and having seen his success I have also started bowling chinaman in shorter formats,” he said with a laugh.
“I have experienced that If you are bowling it with control and mix left-arm spin with chinaman, it’s so effective and batsmen get troubled with this,” Nadeem said.
Nadeem’s next outing will be when South Africa A visit India for five one-dayers and two unofficial Tests from August 29 and then the Vijay Hazare Trophy from September 24. He’s hoping to make them count.