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Cricket news - The Shami returns
Four days before the first ODI against Australia, BCCI announced that Jasprit Bumrah would fly back home. He was rested for the three-match series, as well as for the limited-overs matches in new Zealand followed. The news evoked a mixed reaction.
To say Bumrah is crucial to India's ODI plans, would be an understatement. He is the lynchpin of their bowling attack in the limited-overs' cricket, even more than Bhuvneshwar Kumar. For him to miss eight of the 13 remaining ODIs before the world Cup, made in 2019, meaning that only from one perspective. The team-management is not only your most important ODI weapon, but more importantly, wanted to rest the hand wanted to fill the last test will be two pacers for the English in the summer.
You, Mohammed Shami.
The first game in the SCG was only the third ODI Shami played in the past 13 months. In this period, India 24 ODIs, Shami is not even part of the ODI Team in England and in the United Arab Emirates for the Asia Cup played. We have to go further back in time a little, Shami played only three ODIs in the whole of 2017. As for the 2015 World Cup (Australia/new Zealand), he played only nine ODIs, including the Napier ODI.
Of course, Shami had played through the world Cup with a knee injury and sidelined him for a long time. He was full of hope of a comeback at the beginning of 2016, but a further hamstring injury hampered his chances. Finally, he was fit enough to be in the 2016 T20 WC squad, but not a game to return later on, not only in the IPL. In effect, his international return during the tour of the West Indian Islands this summer.
During the Caribbean tour, Shami describes his injury layoff, as a harrowing experience, one that left him worried whether he can ever walk again, let alone bowl. For a long distance, during this time, he was ridden bed and won additional weight he had to shed later in the NCA. He spent almost eight months in Bangalore, mostly on the fitness and building strength in his knee. In fact, Shami the doctors and trainers asked to put additional burden on him, so as to establish his bowling limits and the strength accordingly.
On the way back, Shami slurred his run-up changed, which helped him maintain his bowling speeds. This is the single-biggest positive of the hard work he had during the rehabilitation. Combined with the ability to move the new ball in both directions, generate back with the older ball, bowling average-bouncer and slipping in the odd yorker, Shami was before Bumrah took India on the complete pacer. Even so, the selectors continued to ignore him for the shorter formats till 2017 and 2018. In a way, it turned out to be a blessing.
"I like Test cricket (more than the shorter formats)," Shami said in Napier, after he was the fastest Indian bowler to pick 100 ODI wickets. "If you do well in the longer format, it is the confidence needs to be higher. After the 2015 world Cup, it has to recover me almost two years to my normal self. I am now bowling with my old trust, and in the same way that I used to use (before the injury)."
Sample this. As of 2015, the world Cup, Shami has played 28 Tests compared to the above-mentioned nine ODIs. Since 2017, he played 18 Tests even as India has focused on building towards the next world Cup in 2019 and separated their bowling resources as per formats. During this time, India have played the most ODI cricket with only two frontline pacers.
From 2017 Champions Trophy, Bhuvneshwar has played 40 of 50 ODIs, while Bumrah has shown in 33 games. There are two ways to look at this. One, India's plans for the world Cup are already fixed and centered on Bhuvneshwar-Bumrah axis. But they needed back-ups, may need as many as four pacers in England.
This is where a second point emanates. During the last two years, the Indian think-tank not too many opportunities to other pacers. In addition to Shami nine ODIs, Umesh Yadav has played, 12 games, since the last Champions Trophy, Shardul Thakur's five, Siddharth Kaul, three, Khaleel Ahmed, seven, and Mohammed Siraj just the one.
When asked about this aspect in Australia, skipper Virat Kohli termed it as a forced measure, one that will ensure maximum game time was the Bhuvneshwar-Bumrah, the in a combination. Look at it depending on how you want to, but it is an insufficient amount of the limited-overs' cricket for all pacemaker with ambitions to play in a ODI world Cup. And at the beginning of 2019, India were always on the lookout for an experienced backup to the Bhuvneshwar-Bumrah duo.
This is where Shami is different. Test-after the Test has been-tour-after-tour, and by India in 2018 and the overseas cycle, he worked himself into a rhythm.
This word - rhythm is all-important for all pacer. Just ask Bhuvneshwar, who sat twiddling thumbs in different wardrobes, in Australia for six weeks between November and January. Add to it, missed his injury during the English summer, and Bhuvneshwar have the Chance, out of a heap of cricket. Only now, play four ODIs in a row, he starts to win, lost the rhythm.
Meanwhile, Shami cricket went through a migration of 404.5 over in the Test - 2429 deliveries rolled in 13 matches in South Africa, England and Australia in 2018. "Playing regular Test cricket in 2018, and the power that I give (49 wickets at an average of 27.14), is the reason why my confidence is so high. I'm back to bowling to my normal pace, and what you see now is because of that," Shami said on Wednesday.
From Sydney, Shami the course and played a variety of roles for Kohli. In the first ODI of 2019, he stepped in for Khaleel, if the young cook went. At Adelaide, he made for Siraj inefficiency. When India formalized the two-pacer formula in Melbourne and Napier, Shami quickly, a partnership with Bhuvneshwar.
"He is a very demanding bowler. You move the ball in both directions at a higher pace than Kumar, and hitting a really beautiful area. He rolled off nicely with the wind," said Kane Williamson, after Shami's opening spell of 4-2-13-2 to be knocked over their tip.
Its impact goes beyond these numbers, however. In four ODIs, Shami is a big worry for the Indian think tank has been checked off. After Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah, you can now have a world Cup buy a ticket to England for him.
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