11/28/2022
Mohammed Shami came in as a replacement for Jasprit Bumrah has stepped into the role of a senior pacer and third seamer behind Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Arshdeep Singh for India in the T20 World Cup 2022.

It indeed is tough to find a replacement for someone like Bumrah and secondly, the options were limited too for India.

Deepak Chahar could not recover in time from an injury while Mohammad Siraj and Shardul Thakur did not exactly have a prime place in India’s white ball scheme of things.

So, the selectors and team management went back to Mohammed Shami, despite him not playing last T20I well over a year ago in the previous edition of the World Cup in the UAE.

It was a rather curious choice too to pick him in the squad of 15 because in a career spanning 9 years from 2013 to 2022, Shami had played in just 17 T20Is before the T20 World Cup 2022. And then he was also recovering from a Covid infection that forced him to sit out of home matches against South Africa and Australia.

The only criteria, perhaps, suited Shami’s case was his overall experience in international cricket and his fine outings for Gujarat Titans in the IPL 2022.

India also needed someone who can crank up pace in the 140s as both Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Arshdeep Singh operate in the 130 clicks and have a rather similar approach to bowling.

But in the T20 World Cup 2022, Shami has upped his game to a notch higher and as the third seamer carried on the good work of Bhuvneshwar and Arshdeep.

Perhaps, it helped Shami’s case also that there has been a lot of focus on Arshdeep and Bhuvneshwar, allowing him to carry on with his work at the other end quietly.

We have a micro sample from Wednesday (November 2). Shami came to bowl at a crucial juncture in the must-win game against Bangladesh and gave away just 4 runs in the 10th over and took the wickets of Najmal Shanto.

Shami was also not hesitant to impart his wisdom to a young bowler like Arshdeep in crunch situations, and we saw it in the match against Bangladesh when the veteran walked up to the young tyro just before the final over and gave some tips.

If you look at the larger picture, in the four matches he played in as varied conditions as in Melbourne, Sydney Perth and Adelaide, Shami has been effective without being extravagant.

His spells 1/25 (vs Pakistan), 1/27 (vs Netherlands), 1/13 (vs South Africa) and 1/25 (vs Bangladesh) had their own role in India winning or staying close to the opponents.

“I always keep practising. It is not easy to switch from a white ball to a red ball or vice versa. Flow and confidence are important for a player. Whenever we think of bowling in the Power Play, we think of hard-length bowling or where more options can be for us. So I am always ready to bowl with the new ball,” said the India pacer.

Perhaps, KL Rahul summed up the importance of individuals chipping in for the team’s cause. “As individuals, I think at this level everyone understands personal responsibilities.

“A frame of mind so you can give your best for the team. So that happens individually and this is how we try and move forward as a team,” said Rahul.

“In the last 10, 12 months and we put ourselves in difficult and uncomfortable situations before. Now, when we’re in those situations, we know what we’ve done. We know how we’ve prepared.

“So there’s a confidence within us that no matter what situation, we’ll find a way and try to do the job for the team,” Rahul added.

India have certainly encountered some challenging conditions in Australia in this T20 World Cup 2022, and Shami’s response has added sharp arrow in their quiver.