ICC World T20 2014: Mohammad Shami – Double or Nothing

Nishit Nakar / 25 March 2014

It is not often, at least in recent times, that Indian bowlers perform better than their batsman at a big ICC tournament. At least in the first two matches against Pakistan and West Indies bowlers restricted the opposition to below par totals making it easy for Indian batsman to chase down the target.  

Indian fans are pleasantly surprised by Indian bowlers’ form. Be it spinner or pacers both have combined well and executed their plans to perfection. If Amit Mishra is hogging the lime light after two consecutive man of the match award then likes of Mohammad Shami are not far behind.

Mohammad Shami is perhaps the only Indian bowler who is equally adaptable bowling with new ball and also at the end of the innings. Shami, over the last couple of series, has shown that he can consistently deliver Yorkers in death overs which is as rare as seeing water in a desert in Indian cricket.

Many experts believe that Shami is like a double edged sword and if he does not pick up wickets then he is a liability in the team due to his high economy rate. Well looking at the figures, an economy rate of 5.82 in ODI cricket is indeed higher and there seems to be a certain amount of justification in what critics say about him.

Having said that, at the moment, Shami is arguably the fastest bowler in Indian cricket (Umesh Yadav and Varoon Aaron spends more time on Phyiso’s bench rather than on the field) and fast bowlers generally are expensive because they are used as attacking option. Also fast bowlers ball at a time when batsman are looking to score runs quickly – be either with new ball (especially in sub-continent where Shami plays mostly) or at the death overs. So after considering pros and cons one can certainly say that Shami will be the mainstay of Indian fast bowling at 2015 World Cup next year in Australia.     

Shami is not only an asset in shorter forms of cricket but also is equally successful over five days of cricket.  Shami has played well in his first six Tests (which is too small a sample size to judge someone) since his debut against the West Indies back in November 2013. He has proven to be a discipline bowler with a good control on line and length. This was at display in New Zealand where the rest of the Indian bowlers (excluding Ishant Sharma) were faltering, he was the go to man for MS Dhoni as on couple of occasions Dhoni preferred him over experience duo of Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan. The signs so far suggest he is quickly emerging as the spearhead of Indian fast bowling.

Recently, in New Zealand, during the ODI series, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had asked his bowlers to use short ball more in New Zealand’s condition. So come the first Test, after India’s 4-0 humiliation at the hands of hosts, Shami did so as he delivered couple of hostile spells only to be countered by equally impressive McCullum. Shami, no doubt, should have taken more wickets than he did in the first Test, but he did manage to beat the batsman fairly regularly as New Zealand found him the tough to face.  

I used this instance to show two things about Shami – 1) He has the pace to hurry even the best of players and (2) He is a disciplined soldier who will carry out orders of his captain to the ‘T’.

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