The Struggle of Mohammad Shami to the top, in IPL 2020

Mohammad Shami, Reaping rewards over the last few years after all his professional and personal hardships.

Mohammad Shami had broken into the Indian side in 2013. A right-arm fast bowler who can bowl up to 140 km/h, Shami can swing and seam the ball at pace making him a handy asset. He made his debut during a transition period in which pacers such as Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, RP Singh, and Praveen Kumar were declining. His first series was also the first for another famous Indian pacer, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Following a strong debut in which he bowled four maiden overs in a one-day match against Pakistan, he got a test call against West Indies at the end of the year. Following a good test series, Shami cemented his place in the Indian side. He went onto put up some great performances around the world while also breaking numerous records.

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In the test format, he, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Umesh Yadav formed a strong pace attack. Shami as the second innings specialist bowling some magnificent spells to pull the game India’s way.
While he was an excellent bowler in the longer format, the growth over the years in limited-overs cricket is also worth noting. He racked up some incredible performances before the 2015 World Cup in which he was India’s best bowler. In the 2015 World Cup, he unleashed his bouncer, a potent weapon throughout the tournament.

Post the 2015 world cup, Shami said he had suffered from a recurring knee injury for a considerable period. The knee injury turned out to be a costly one as he was out of international cricket for nearly a year, causing him to miss IPL 2015. Following the knee injury, Shami tried making a comeback to the side but suffered another injury. This time to his hamstring, which made him miss another few months of cricket.

He returned to the test side in 2016 but couldn’t get a long run in the one day side with stiff competition for spots. He also faced numerous issues with form and fitness. He struggled for that season in the IPL and made his chances for a limited over spot seem minimal.

He made a brief appearance in limited-overs cricket in 2017 but couldn’t hold his spot with the presence of Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar while also not putting up impressive numbers. He was in and out of the side through IPL 2017 and 2018 due to fitness issues, putting a lot of attention on Shami’s fitness levels.

Along with fitness issues, Shami had further gone through a struggle with many personal problems that continued throughout 2018 and early 2019 while also facing corruption charges that were cleared later. Despite all the hardships Shami faced throughout the year, Shami managed to come back very well. He earned a recall to the national side and returned a much fitter bowler. His performance answered his critics well.

Coming back as a fitter and faster bowler, Shami increased India’s fast bowling depth in the limited-overs side and came in as a beautiful wicket-taking option. However, he was more expensive than his partners, Bumrah and Bhuvi. He followed up his performances with 19 wickets in IPL 2019.

He went into the world cup as a back up to Bumrah and Bhuvi. Despite playing in only four games, Shami finished as India’s second-highest wicket-taker, with 14 wickets. He picked up a hat trick against Afghanistan in a group stage match. The second Indian to do so in a world cup after Chetan Sharma.

Following his World Cup performance.,Shami continued as a regular fixture in the white ball squad. At the same time, he was getting better and better with every game and growing as a limited-overs bowler. A player who had been in and of the side had finally made the spot his own.

Coming into this IPL, there were many questions on the impact of a six-month break on the cricketers. Coaches have also stated that the gap will be tough on fast bowlers. It can generally take longer for them to regain their intensity and rhythm after a break. Injuries due to a sudden increase in workload is also not a common occurrence. While their theory may be correct, none of it seems to matter to Mohammad Shami.

This year Mohammad Shami has taken his game to another level, forming an excellent partnership with Sheldon Cottrell, for the Kings XI Punjab. His aggression upfront and his skill and pace with the new ball have helped him counter the lack of swing on offer in UAE. Mohammad Shami is leading the wickets charts with seven wickets in three games at 11.71. He chipped in with crucial wickets in the three matches. It was against the Rajasthan Royals, where he conceded 53 in his four overs in a high scoring game. The only game so far where he went at more than six an over.

So far, this IPL has seen Shami bowling at his best in limited-overs cricket. He has managed to out bowl his Indian Counterparts twelve games into the tournament. After all the issues he had over the last few years, ranging from personal matters to fitness issues. Let’s hope Shami can carry on with this form and win more and more games for his side in the coming years.

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Sanjay Sanapoori

A mechanical engineering student, who has immense love for cricket. Been a fan of the game since 2009 and would love to stay involved with Cricket someway or the other.