Remaining on the sidelines for a long time can be mentally and physically draining for any player, especially a pacer. The long absence make them apprehensive when they make a comeback. However, Indian pacer Mohammed Shami, who made a comeback to the Indian Test team after 18 long months, in the first Test against West Indies has not found it tough to get back his rhythm. The right-arm pacer has hit the ground running and has picked up eight wickets in the first two matches. On the eve of the third match, Shami spoke to the media on various topics ranging from his comeback, bowling and much more.

Excerpts:

On his comeback from injury:

After the operation happened, there was definitely some doubt, but I spent 7-8 months at NCA, and after that all the doubt was gone, because I had worked so hard, put so much load on myself, that there was no tension over the workload to come. It was just a matter of confidence, how I show my confidence, and the effort was to start where I had left off. By the grace of Allah, I have started just the way I had left off, and I have hope that this will go on for a long time.

On what was his focus during the injury:

My focus was just that I keep my weight down as much as possible. I was unfit for so long, so my thinking was, the more I control my diet and my weight, the easier it will be for me going forward. I was in bed for two months, and I had put on 14-15 kilos, so I had to work really hard to lose that weight, and the result is in front of you.

On his good use of the short ball:

There are only two things you can use to test a batsman, either by bowling full or bowling short, so my plan was just to determine which length was making a batsman uncomfortable, and I have been trying to read that quickly.

On five-bowlers strategy:

As a fast bowler, you get a little more time [between spells], because it’s important to get time to rest after bowling your spell of four or five overs. If you have five bowlers, you get 10-15 overs more to regain your breath, and you come back with better rhythm, and put in more effort. It’s a big plus point for us to have two good spinners and three fast bowlers, and we have a good combination going.

On the secret behind his impressive comeback:

There’s no secret. As you saw, I was working very hard at the NCA. After putting a lot of loads, I told the doctors, the trainers, everyone, to put as much load on me as possible, and try whatever they wanted to, because I didn’t want to have any doubt [about my fitness] going forward. After that, the team was also there, and I joined them. Whatever nets I could do, I did. I tried everything, and no doubt, I came back and put in my effort.

On the importance of having a coach’s backing:

As a player, it’s very important for the coach and captain to have confidence in you. But to gain that, you have to fulfil the role you have been given, and I keep trying to do that.

On whether the short ball has  become his main weapon now:

I’ve definitely worked on it. Without work, you can’t achieve anything. I’ve just tried to read the wicket as quickly as possible, which length is the ball flying from, which length should I bowl on, and which length is making the batsman uncomfortable. That has been the main thing, to keep bowling where the batsman is uncomfortable, and we have used the short ball in that manner.

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An avid sports lover, i always wanted to pursue a career in football. But just like the millions out there i did not put in the hard work needed to achieve my dream and now i have become a fan instead of the player. Anyway, writing for sports has kept me closer to this field. One more thing, yours sincerely is a die-hard Liverpool fan. You will never walk alone.