BIRMINGHAM: Fearless, ferocious and fantastic are a few adjectives that best describe Team India’s current bowling attack. In the last two matches when the famed batting line-up didn’t perform up to desired standards, the bowling unit came to the fore to keep India’s unbeaten run in the World Cup going.
The performance against Afghanistan and West Indies — successfully defending low totals such as 224 and 268 respectively — has not only enhanced India’s reputation as one of the most potent attacks, but also shown that it’s not just about Jasprit Bumrah.
While Bumrah has lived up to the expectations as the world’s No.1 ranked bowler, Mohammed Shami has surprised many by taking a four-wicket haul for the second straight game, that too coming off the bench as a replacement for Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Even after Shami’s sensational hat-trick heroics in the last-over thriller against Afghanistan, Sachin Tendulkar had suggested that Bhuvneshwar, who was declared fit for the Windies game, should take his place back for his ability to trouble Chris Gayle.
Shami, however, was not ready to let the opportunity go. The Bengal pacer removed Gayle early and also dismissed an in-form Shai Hope with a peach of a delivery to sow the seeds for India’s convincing win.
Former Aussie cricketer Michael Hussey called it the ball of the tournament. “That was absolutely unplayable as it seamed back a long way. Even if there was nothing in the pitch for seamers, Indian bowlers are finding their way to take wickets,” Hussey was quoted as saying.
The healthy competition among pacers augurs well for India who are the only side in the competition with all their bowlers having an economy rate of under six. It only bodes well for the remainder of the tournament that the spin twins of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal are complementing the speedsters.
Not long ago, Shami’s career was in jeopardy with accusations of domestic violence making headlines. The fact that he failed a fitness test last year didn’t help either as he was also dropped from the BCCI contract. But the transformation has been remarkable. “Everything is going well. I had to endure all that I was made to go through. What I went through in the past 18 months, it’s me and only me who had to suffer. So credit goes to me,” Shami said.
“Yes, I thank the almighty for giving me the strength to fight everything from family issues to fitness. I am now only focussed on doing well for my country,” he added.
Shami attributed his recent success to his improved fitness. “I failed the yo-yo test, that’s true. But the one thing is I have improved my fitness a lot. I am in my comfort zone, I have lost weight and my rhythm is good.
As far as skill is concerned, I have full faith in myself that whatever be the wicket I can express my abilities,” said Shami....