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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

India vs South Africa: Shahbaz Nadeem’s wait ends with a classical first wicket

India vs South Africa: Shahbaz Nadeem said IPL and the India A series smoothed the transition into the Test team.

cricket Updated: Oct 21, 2019 20:21 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Ranchi
Shahbaz Nadeem celebrates after taking a wicket.
Shahbaz Nadeem celebrates after taking a wicket.(Twitter)
         

Shahbaz Nadeem was offering ‘namaz’ at home in Kolkata on Friday afternoon when the call came to be part of the squad for this Test. “I finished namaz and saw that I was being called. I came by road from Kolkata,” said the left-arm spinner in Ranchi on Monday, who reached the team hotel after 11pm, hours before the game.

The call had come after 15 years of first-class cricket during which Nadeem, 30, said he had to motivate himself to keep waiting for a chance—“all our spinners perform so consistently that there is little else you can do,”—so he wasn’t taken aback by the somewhat dramatic turn of events.

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“When you have played cricket for so many years, you’re ready to play at 6 in the morning after getting a call at 4am. I have worked hard to reach here. You dream of being on television along with the (India) players you see on TV,” he said.

The debut happening at home is the best that can happen to a newcomer, he said. Nadeem also got his first Test wicket on Monday, having Temba Bavuma stumped by Wriddhiman Saha. “You can say it was the perfect left-arm spinner’s delivery,” he said, referring to the ball that beat Bavuma in the air and off the pitch and won rich praise on twitter from the original wizard of left-arm spin, Bishan Singh Bedi. “What a splendid 1st Test wkt fr #Nadeem…he did #Bavuma twice..in the air..& then off the pitch…excellent spectacle..!! Well done Nadeem..!!

 

Nadeem finished with 2/22 after 11.2 overs, including four maidens.

Nadeem said IPL and the India A series smoothed the transition into the Test team. “They (A series) help you know your opponents. Four or five players from this (South Africa) team played in the A series. And since in the IPL batsmen attack you, it helps you control nerves. You know you have been on the big stage and this (playing in a Test) starts feeling familiar too.”

The disadvantage of starting early—Nadeem was 15 when he made Ranji Trophy debut; he has played 110 games—is that it took him five seasons to figure out how to be effective in different formats.

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“There was hardly any spinner in the (Jharkhand) side and we were playing on green wickets. If on a green wicket you bowled flat, the ball would skid and hit the bat fast. If I had to play on green wickets, I had to change my bowling and work on flight. Only then would I get some purchase. So, I started learning variations in flight. It helped that I didn’t get helpful wickets early in my career,” said Nadeem.

While bowling with Ravindra Jadeja, Nadeem said the conversation was restricted to planning for batsmen after observing their shots. “Jaddu and I have different strengths and it was about sticking to things we have been doing since we were young, better that than copy each other.”