“With the World Cup around the corner, Shami and Team India will hope that he puts up a similar performance in the 2019 edition as he did in the previous World Cup”

While Mohammed Shami over the years has established himself as one of India’s frontline seamers in Tests, his place in the ODIs has always been under the scanner. He became the fastest Indian to 100 ODI wickets during the first ODI against at Napier, achieving this feat in just 56 matches, but his run in the ODIs for India has been a mixed one.

There are two phases of Shami’s ODI career. One before the ICC World Cup 2015 and the one after that. Having made his debut in 2013, his raw pace and movement he generated and his seam presentation were a delight to watch and it was of little surprise that he managed to get a long run in the Indian team in ODIs. Regardless, of the format, Shami is a genuine wicket-taker, especially in his first spell when there is some assistance for the fast bowlers with the new ball.

He started off slow. He would pick up the odd wicket or two every game, bowl economical spells most of the time, but had not done anything worthwhile with the ball until India toured South Africa and New Zealand in 2013-14. Shami had picked up 3 wickets or more just twice in 17 matches before the South Africa tour came along, but he managed to pick up three wickets in all the three matches in South Africa. He followed that up with a 4-wicket haul at Napier and with another 3 wickets at Hamilton. Shami picked up wickets in conditions conducive to fast bowling and the batsmen could not handle him.

Also read: My first preference is to get into the world cup frame of Indian team, says Mohammed Shami

Even now, after five years, he is causing the batsmen some trouble in New Zealand, where driving on the up against the fast bowlers is always going to tough given that the ball just skids through after pitching. This sort of delivery got rid of Martin Guptill and Tom Latham in the first ODI on Wednesday.

Shami continued his good run right till the end of The ICC World Cup 2015 – a tournament where the fast bowlers – led by Shami were at their very best. However, a knee injury and then surgery meant that Shami had to sit out for a considerable amount of time.

Despite carrying an injury in the World Cup, Shami did not let the team down and finished the tournament as the fourth highest wicket-taker with 17 scalps behind Mitchell Starc (22), Trent Boult (22), Umesh Yadav (18). Barring the semi-final against Australia, India had bowled all their opponents out in the tournament and had Shami played against UAE, he would have had the chance to overtake Umesh in the list.

The table below shows Shami’s performance in ODIs before and during the World Cup

Shami in

M

W

Ave

SR

Eco

BBI

4WI

5WI

Before World Cup 2015

39

70

26.74

28.2

5.67

4 for 36

1

0

In World Cup 2015

7

17

17.29

21.5

4.81

4 for 35

1

0

It is evident that Shami really turned a corner in the World Cup and his numbers suggest that he perhaps had his best series in white ball cricket. Be it his average, strike rate or even best bowling figures, Shami proved that he had a bright future in ODIs for many more years to come. He proved that he is somebody who can step up and be one of India’s premier fast bowlers.

However, Shami underwent surgery and was on crutches for 40 days before he could start his rehabilitation at the NCA, Bangalore right after the World Cup. His next international match was a Test in the Caribbean against West Indies in July 2016 – International cricket after over 16 months.

By the time Shami returned from injury, India had a reasonably good bowling attack in ODIs, but needed someone like Shami to stake a claim for a spot, in case one of the fast bowlers was struggling. Despite making the squad for Champions Trophy, he did not make it to the XI, as Kohli already had Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah as the lead pacers, with Hardik Pandya playing as a fast bowling all-rounder.

But Shami could not be kept out for long and he made his ODI return during India’s limited-overs tour of West Indies in 2017. Shami bowled as he belonged there all along. In his first game, he went wicketless, but gave away just 33 runs from his 10 overs. However, he ripped through the batting line-up in his second game at Kingston, finishing with 4 for 48 from his 10 overs. Also, since his ODI return, only twice in 9 matches, has he not completed his quota of 10 overs.

Shami since ODI return

M

W

Ave

SR

Eco

BBI

4WI

5WI

9

15

30.2

34.2

5.28

4 for 48

1

0

With the World Cup around the corner, Shami and Team India will hope that he puts up a similar performance in the 2019 edition as he did in the previous World Cup. India’s bowling over the last four years has improved across formats and will pose a serious threat at the World Cup in England this time. Unlike 2015, where Shami led the bowling attack, his role in 2019 most likely will be that of a third seamer, behind Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah. If he continues bowling in the same fashion as he did at Napier, India may very well have a chance of lifting their third World Cup title.

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