India’s preparations for the ODI World Cup 2019 are shaping up pretty well. The Men in Blue recently won 2 good ODI series in Australia and New Zealand. Most of the players have certainly sealed their places for the marquee event. One player who has stormed into the ODI setup and secured a berth is Mohammed Shami.
The pacer has been outstanding in the recent games. Definitely, he has made a strong case for himself for a place in the World Cup squad. Not just a place, he is even pushing for the second seamer’s slot in the playing XI. The 28-year-old found tremendous success in the ODI series held in Australia and New Zealand.
A wonderful turnaround for Mohammed Shami
When Mohammed Shami first burst onto the scene, he was lethal with the red ball. He made a mark in his debut Test series at home in 2013 against Windies where he troubled the batsmen with his reverse swing. Gradually, he earned a place in the ODI squad as well. He was India’s premier pacer in the 2015 ODI World Cup as he took 17 wickets from 7 games.
But post that tournament, he lost the sheen in limited overs cricket. Shami succumbed his place in the ODI squad. But in Test cricket, he was still around. He became fitter and leaner. The pacer had an outstanding run in the longest format of the game on the tours of South Africa, England and Australia.
Due to the impressive run in Test cricket, he earned his place back in the Indian ODI team. It all started in the ODI series in Australia. Shami took 5 wickets from 3 games while Jasprit Bumrah was rested from the series. In the first 2 games, he served as the 3rd seamer in the side. But in the last game, he bowled with the new ball.
The series against New Zealand proved to be the breakthrough series. Mohammed Shami was no longer the 3rd seamer in the side. He was well and truly the premier pacer in the bowling attack. The absence of Bumrah helped his cause as he continued to grab the eyeballs.
Shami bagged 9 wickets from 4 matches and was adjudged the Player of the Series. For an Indian pacer to earn that award was a remarkable achievement, especially on batting pitches. He earned 2 Man of the Match awards in the series as well. That was the performance that put would him firmly in the flight to England for the World Cup.
Pace and the hustle
The Mohammed Shami of today is a lot different from the Mohammed Shami of 2 years ago. He has lost weight and looks fitter than ever. The Indian captain has admitted that he hasn’t seen Shami leaner before. Meanwhile, for Kohli, it’s now a headache that Shami is doing so well. But it’s a good headache to have for a skipper.
From a long time, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah have been the trusted pair in the ODI setup in the pace department. But it will be so difficult to leave Shami out given the form he has been in. Bumrah, the No.1 ODI bowler in the world, can’t be left out. So, the pressure will be on Bhuvneshwar to keep doing well.
What makes Shami’s case even stronger is that he has shown the ability to bowl well even on flat surfaces. The pitches in New Zealand were batting-friendly. Those were pretty similar to what England would offer.
Shami has bowled beautifully with the new ball even on hard surfaces. The seam position has never been an issue with the pacer. He can swing the ball and more importantly, bowl quick. Shami was consistently clocking near 145 in the recent ODIs. And as they say, there is no substitute for raw pace.
India had experimented with the likes of Khaleel Ahmed, Mohammed Siraj for the 3rd seamer’s slot. But very quickly, Shami has gone past the others and sealed a place. Now it’s up to the captain and the team management to find a place in the XI. One thing’s for sure that Mohammed Shami will play a key role in England if given a chance in the line-up.
P Sara Oval, Colombo
Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, Antigua
County Ground, Derby
Sabina Park, Jamaica
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