Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay – Mohammed Shami is born - occasionally erratic, permanently dangerous
September 3, 1990 - The first time one saw Mohammed Shami in action, it was easy to make out that the youngster was a cut above the rest.
Records have been part and parcel of his career and the first of many to follow was made in his very first international match when he made his debut for India in a high-octane encounter against Pakistan in Delhi.
Shami did not have a lot of wickets to show but he finished with figures of 9-4-23-1, helping India to a victory. He became only the eighth bowler worldwide and the first Indian to bowl four or more maidens in his debut ODI.
In the following matches as well, Shami conceded only 24 and 23 runs while picking up one wicket each. While stats can be misleading at times, people who saw him live also second that it wasn't easy to get him away.
Fast forward to the present and Shami picking up a couple of wickets in the powerplay in ODIs is the norm. He is still difficult to get away but it is his wicket-taking ability which has rendered him very difficult to drop.
Shami finished as India's second-highest wicket-taker in the 2015 World Cup, taking 17 wickets from 7 matches at 17.29 and bagged a hat-trick against Afghanistan in the 2019 World Cup.
The performance became all the more special when Shami later revealed that he was playing the tournament with a serious knee injury, “I had a knee injury during the 2015 World Cup. I couldn’t walk after the matches I played throughout the tournament with the injury. I played the 2015 World Cup because of the confidence Nitin Patel (team physio) had in me. The knee broke in the first match itself. My thighs and knees were the same size, the doctors used to take out fluid from them everyday. I used to take three painkillers. I had never been in such a condition like this, some had said my career was over, but I am still here”
With 144 wickets from 77 ODIs at an average of 25.4 and a strike rate of 27.2, Shami's best is yet to come in white-ball cricket.
The format in which he has been the most impressive in test cricket where the U.P-born is just one match shy of completing 50 caps. The quick has already picked up 180 wickets at an average of 27.36 and a strike rate of 49.4 - terrific numbers when you consider that many of them have come in India, where the pitches are not always helpful for pacers.
It's not that his test career has been a revelation. The first time that he got his test cap, in the retirement series of Sachin Tendulkar, Shami registered figures of 9/118 against West Indies in Kolkata in 2013. These were the best figures for an Indian fast bowler on debut and it was clear that Shami not only had the pace but also the control to be in for the long haul. Being a spectacular exponent of reverse-swing bowling, Shami becomes even more lethal with the old ball.
On India's last test jaunt of England, South Africa and Australia, the team may have lost against England and South Africa while winning 2-1 against Australia, but there was hardly anyone who wasn't impressed by India's pace battery. Shami was equally as impressive as Bumrah, picking up 47 wickets in 2018 at 26.98 and an eye-catching 33 wickets in 2019 at 16.67.
One can't wait to see him in action once again as international cricket comes back on track.
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