New Delhi: Mohammed Shami has an uncanny ability to up his ante late in the game just when shoulders around him start drooping during second innings of Test matches.
Shami has enjoyed stupendous success in the second innings of five-day games. Out of his 180 Test wickets, 92 came in the first innings at 32.50 but there are 88 in the second innings came at an impressive average of 21.98 per dismissal.
During the 2017-18 tour of South Africa 12 of his 15 wickets came in the second innings.
Asked about this piece of statistics, Shami said,”I’m not sure, it just happens.”
“I use the game very smartly in the second innings. Like in the recent match we played in Vizag (against South Africa) where I got a five-for, the pitch was pretty dead and wasn’t offering any bounce,” Shami told former India wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta on Cricketbaazi, a talk show on ESPNcricinfo
“….you need to use the available conditions smartly. I am usually pumped up in the second innings when everyone else is tired.
“Everyone has spent three days on the field. Diesel engines take time to pick up compared to petrol ones. I wait patiently for everyone to tire out. You have five days in a Test match. Once everyone is tired, I step up.”
Shami proudly said that depth in India’s pace attack is unprecedented in ‘history’ and the current unit, of which he is a vital part, is probably the best in the world.
Apart from Shami, India’s core Test-match fast-bowling group also includes Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
“You and everyone else in the world will agree to this – that no team has ever had five fast bowlers together as a package. Not just now, in the history of cricket, this might be the best fast-bowling unit in the world.”
Shami also revealed that skipper Virat Kohli leaves the decision on his paver to decide as to who will bowl with the new ball.
“We surround Virat Kohli and ask him to make the decision. But he normally says, ‘don’t get me involved in all this; you decide among yourselves, I don’t have an issue.’ That is the kind of fun we have in our team meetings. I let the other two start. I have no objection to bowling with a semi-new ball.”
Shami has been pretty successful since his return from a knee injury. He has competed in 27 out of India’s 30 Tests since July 2017 and has done well on overseas tours of South Africa and Australia.
He has had a tendency to pick up his wickets in bursts, which he attributed to an effective strategy.
“If the batsman is set and we haven’t been able to pick up a lot of wickets, we try to bowl a tight line and length by dropping our pace,” he said.
“As soon as we get a wicket, you increase your pace by about 8kph. This difference in speed is pretty visible. If the bowler was bowling at around 140kph earlier, after picking up a wicket he gets his rhythm back, picks up the pace and the same ball is now delivered at 145kph.
“Once the set batsman is dismissed, I go for the kill as a bowler. That’s why it seems like I bowl in two different ways. The ‘second-innings Shami’ label – that has been created by you guys (the media).”