Hailing from a remote village in Uttar Pradesh, born to a fast-bowler-turned-farmer, Mohammed Shami’s father spotted a spark in only one of his five children (all aspiring fast bowlers) an…
Hailing from a remote village in Uttar Pradesh, born to a fast-bowler-turned-farmer, Mohammed Shami’s father spotted a spark in only one of his five children (all aspiring fast bowlers) and took him to a renowned coach in Moradabad, the closest city to their village. A bundle of energy, he was known to be a hard-worker full of stamina and trained like a workhorse under the watchful eye of Badruddin Siddique.
After being snubbed from the U-19 selections due to alleged politically-corrupt selections, Shami was advised to move to Kolkata by his coach. He was taken under the apprenticeship of Debabrata Das to the extent of staying under his roof and just about made it to the U-22 Bengal side. After a specially conducted net session supervised by Sourav Ganguly, Shami was recognized as a special talent and after a tough grind through the ranks, he got his chance to represent Bengal at the Ranji level. After a commendable set of performances at the domestic level, Shami was selected for the West Indies A tour in 2012, where he impressed with his pace and lateral movement on relatively flat surfaces with little or no assistance for fast bowlers. From an impressive 10-wicket haul at the grassy Eden track to the unprecedented 11-wicket haul at the rather unhelpful Indore track, Shami was fast proving to be one of the stand-out and versatile performers in the Indian domestic circuit.
Shami slowly made his way into national reckoning and was handed an ODI debut in early 2013. Slowly but surely, he started to make significant contributions and with his ability to reverse/contrast swing the old white ball, he became an indispensable asset to the limited-overs side, becoming the second-fastest Indian to 50 ODI wickets in the process. He proved his worth in gold in the 2015 World Cup taking 17 wickets and ending up as one of the highest wicket-takers in the tournament. It was later revealed that he had played the World Cup through a knee injury. Looking a tad deeper into the performance, he was India’s most economical bowler in the tournament, except in the semi-final loss against Australia, in a period when the power-play laws were stacked for the batsmen.
With the red cherry, Shami made his debut in the home series against the West Indies, more popularly known as Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell series. He immediately impressed with his ability to bowl the seam-up delivery and to move the ball off the seam as well as reverse-swing the SG ball in India and as a result, he took 9 wickets on debut against the West Indies. He had moderate away tours in New Zealand and South Africa, and struggled on the tour to England, where he was expected to do well with his ability to jag the ball off the deck. However, in conditions less favorable for bowling in Australia, he picked up 15 wickets in 3 Tests before falling prey to injury again.
With his limited-yet-useful ability to move the new ball off the deck and reverse the old ball in the air, Shami has proved to be a master of ball maintenance and performance in unhelpful conditions. However, his maddening knack of being inconsistent in stints and his eternal tryst with injury have made it exasperating for the selectors to trust him, especially on longer tours. With age on his side, he has the ability to further develop his game and prove himself to be a consistent performer in all conditions. He has shown decent control on the Dukes and the Kookaburra ball in addition to his expertise with the SG, and has performed the rather enigmatic task of reversing the Kookaburra in Australia. With a plethora of overseas tours on the horizon, a fitter and stronger Shami is all set to set the stage on fire and propel himself into the league of the greats of fast bowling.
IPL – Through the years
Initially part of his home franchise – Kolkata Knight Riders – Mohammed Shami got only a handful of opportunities. Post his impressive international debut, Delhi Daredevils bought him for Rs. 4.25 crore in 2014. Shami has been on the expensive side with the ball in the Indian Premier League and injuries hasn’t helped his cause either. With his IPL economy rate above 9, his 5-year association with Delhi ended as the franchise decided to release him. During the 2019 IPL auctions, Shami was roped in by Kings XI Punjab for Rs 4.40 crore. Having regained his mojo in white-ball cricket, Shami will be a vital cog as KXIP eye their maiden IPL win.