The Story:

Jharkhand’s Shahbaz Nadeem is arguably one of the best left-arm spinners in the country. In the last couple of Ranji Trophy seasons, Nadeem has been outstanding having finished on top of the wicket-taking charts for two consecutive times, with 51 and 56 scalps in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, respectively.

This record in the domestic cricket combined with his performance in the Indian Premier League makes him completely worthy of a place in the Indian team.

However, luck has eluded him so far and he stands as one of those unfortunate names who is still waiting for his chance to arrive. But, opportunities to prove himself still beckons him, as he retained his place in the India A side and set to tour South Africa to play two unofficial Tests next month.

This will be a great chance to make a case for himself, as India is set to tour South Africa later this year. The top India ‘A’ performers in the upcoming series will get noticed by the national selectors and Nadeem has a golden chance in his hands.

Experienced Lad

Nadeem has an experience of playing in the highly unresponsive spin bowling conditions of South Africa. He says that he will be counting on those experiences when he would come out to play.

“I’ve played in South Africa on 2-3 occasions previously and had good success there. In those conditions, you have to be more precise with your line and length because the pitches aren’t conducive to spinners. You have to depend on your pace variation as well. These are things I have learnt and I hope to make that experience count this time around. If I can perform well, I’m optimistic of getting a chance for India soon,” Nadeem told ToI on Thursday (July 7).

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Nadeem will be seen in action playing for Nelson in the TNCA first division league before packing the bags for South Africa. He says that he took the decision to get some match practice ahead of the tour.

“This is my first year in the TNCA league. Generally, there are no matches at this time of the year in Jharkhand because it’s the rainy season back home. In previous years, I used to just train during the off-season but with the ‘A’ tour coming up, I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to get some valuable match practice. The TNCA league is one of the best in the country and the conditions in Chennai are not that easy,” Nadeem explained.

Blooming Under Dhoni’s Mentorship

Nadeem has been a key member in the Jharkhand side which has grown exponentially in terms of quality. One of the reasons behind their development has been the involvement of MS Dhoni. Jharkhand reached the quarterfinals of the 2015-16 edition and lost to eventual champions Gujarat in the semi-finals last season. The left-arm spinner credits the legendary former India skipper for the transformation which has taken place in Jharkhand Cricket.

“Dhoni’s presence in the Jharkhand dressing room has been of immense help. He is always looking to impart his cricketing nous to the others. Earlier, we were known as a good one-day side. But ever since Dhoni has started spending more time with the team, our Ranji results have also improved. As far as my bowling is concerned, he has stressed on being more patient and that is yielding results,” Nadeem added.

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