Remaining away from the game for a long time can be mentally and physically draining for any player and they are always apprehensive when they make a comeback. However, Indian pacer Mohammad Shami, who made a comeback to the Indian Test team after 18 long months, looked at his usual best as he dismantled the West Indies batting line-up in the first Test to set India on their way to their biggest overseas victory.
On a sluggish wicket that kept getting slower by the day and had absolutely nothing to offer for the pacers, Shami bowled with intent to show his importance to the team. The pacer from Bengal took 4 wickets which helped the India to dismiss the hosts for only 243 and then impose a follow-on.
One of the best performers for India in 2015 World Cup, Shami played the whole tournament in Australia with a knee injury. However, his body finally gave up and he had to remain sidelined for almost a year. He made a comeback to the team after the conclusion of IPL but did not get enough chance to perform.
Ishant Sharma is a certainty in the Test team and Umesh Yadav’s impressive bowling against South Africa in the last Test series meant the West Indies tour was of extreme importance to Shami as it was his last chance to impress the selectors before the starting of the bumper home season where India is scheduled to play 13 Tests in six months. And one can say that the pacer has grabbed the opportunity with both the hands so far.
His accuracy, penetration, bouncer and the ability to bowl with the older ball makes him a very reliable option for India Test skipper Virat Kohli. With India expected to make turning pitches, Shami’s ability to bowl well on those pitches and extract reverse swing will be a big asset for India in the coming days.