From New Zealand to New Zealand - The remarkable transformation of Mohammed Shami, the white-ball bowler
After the Australia series, Team India captain Virat Kohli praised Jasprit Bumrah for stepping up and wanting to make a difference for the side. In his first series after the injury break, Bumrah was effective. However, he could pick only the one wicket across the three match, but his economy rate and tight spells allowed the other bowlers to pick up wickets from the other end.
This is where Mohammed Shami made the difference. He was pacy and accurate and unlike his previous version, which would often give freebies away after four good deliveries, this Shami was almost always on the money. If hunting in a pair had a definition, Bumrah and Shami were the examples. One keeping the batsmen honest, the other preying on them. It was not always this was Shami - he has worked on his fitness and now when the side travels to New Zealand, the mind jog backs to India’s previous tour of the country just before the World Cup where the resurgence of Mohammed Shami as a white ball bowler began.
In the aforementioned series, captain Kohli asked Shami to sprint up to the stumps and let the ball go. Seam position and movement off the surface has always been his ally and in Napier, he flew. The fast bowler returned with figures 4-2-13-2 in his opening spell and dispelled all the notions of him being only a Test bowler. He ended the 5-match series with nine wickets under his belt, but beyond these numbers, Shami had established himself as one of India’s primary bowlers in limited-overs cricket.
We now jog our memories to October 2018 when he made his ODI comeback. In 26 innings since, he has picked up 52 wickets at an impressive average just under 25. His strike rate reads 26 and has an economy rate of under six.
Almost 40 per cent of his dismissals have been bowled - 6 such dismissal have been inch-perfect yorkers. India were superb in the series against Australia - in the second match at Rajkot, Shami, Saini and Bumrah combined to bowl almost 50 yorkers and continued their impressive performance even in Bengaluru.
He will be important even in New Zealand and for Kohli, the combination of Shami and Bumrah will be a key cog in the wheel.