Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has backed Mohammed Shami, who played a crucial role in India’s emphatic win in the first Test against South Africa, to become the “king of reverse swing”.
Shami picked up a brilliant five-wicket haul during the second innings of South Africa in the Visakhapatnam Test which India won by 203 runs.
Speaking in a video on his YouTube channel, Akhtar said that he once advised Shami to try and become a tearaway pacer while also using reverse swing, a rare quality in contemporary fast bowlers from the sub-continent.
“After India’s (50-over) World Cup disappointment, Shami called me up one day and said he was feeling sad that he could not do well for India. I told him not to lose heart but maintain fitness. I told him that the home series is coming and you will do well.
“I told Shami that I want him to become a tearaway pacer, running through batting line-ups. He has seam and swing, besides that he has reverse swing which very few bowlers in the subcontinent have. I told him you can become king of reverse swing.
“Now, you see what he has done, he has got wickets from a docile pitch (in Visakhaptnam). I am very happy for him.
“Under Virat Kohli, Shami is going to thrive. I told Shami that Kohli is a potent captain who enjoys captaincy and gives full freedom to his bowlers,” he added.
Earlier, Shami had also praised Kohli and said he puts in a lot of trust on his bowlers.
“Virat Kohli as a captain always hears us out and gives us the freedom to follow our strategy during the match. He has given us the freedom to take a call on whether we want to bowl 5 overs or 7 overs or more — he says ‘if you have the power, go ahead and bowl’. That’s when we take a call that we will bowl three overs but with full power… That’s the understanding we have. He trusts us, and we trust him,” Shami had said after the first Test against the Proteas.
With a lead of 1-0 in the three-match rubber, India will look to clinch the series in Pune in the second Test beginning Thursday.