Mohammed Shami: A relaxed yet exciting and passionate Indian cricketer
Mohammed Shami is one of the most approachable cricketers in the Indian team. Those close to the fast bowler often describe him as a person who is relaxed, laid back and exciting at the same time. Shami is the first to run to the massage table after a long spell and quite often the last to leave. It's this simplicity that allows him to stay unflustered under pressure. Thanks to his background of tennis-ball cricket, in which he used to play tournaments in front of rogue local crowds, the pressure of bowling the last over in an IPL knockout game or a World Cup match is no big deal for Shami.
His passion for fast bowling and giving it all for his team is unmatchable. At the same time, he has another side to him that can switch off readily and drive as far away from the cricket field as possible even when being present in the dressing room. The Indian physios and masseurs would testify to this.
No wonder, former and current cricketers and prominent personalities from different spheres came out in support of Shami when he was subjected to social media trolls (read abuse) after India lost to Pakistan in their T20 World Cup 2021 opening match in Dubai.
Shami's fault? He went for 17 runs in 4 balls when Pakistan needed as many runs in the last 3 overs. It perhaps wouldn't have mattered much even if Shami had bowled a decent over, conceding less than 10 runs. There was a high probability that Pakistan would still have gone on to win the match comfortably for they had all 10 wickets intact and two rampaging openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan at the crease.
Was it Shami's fault that India lost for the first time to Pakistan in a World Cup match in any format after winning 12 on the trot? NO! It was nobody's fault. Pakistan are a quality side, who brought their best game on that particular day and outclassed India in all three departments of cricket. One really shouldn't need to remind an average cricket fan in India that such things happen in the gentlemen's game. That's why it's a sport. There is no set formula for guaranteed success. And that is where ne is forced to think that problem was not cricket only.
One doesn't need to think twice to state with authority that Shami wasn't abused on social media because of that one bad over that he had bowled. It was not because of cricketing reasons. It was beyond that. It was perhaps because of his name.
Would he have received the same treatment if the match wasn't against Pakistan and he had bowled a similar over? Perhaps not.
It was the same Shami, who in his last appearance in an India-Pakistan match, picked up four wickets. It was the same Shami who in an interview with sports presenter Madonna Tixeira had said that he doesn't believe in senior or junior. He is ready to take advice from a junior if he is bowling well on a particular day.
"When we are fielding, I always try to motivate the fast bowling unit. And I believe there is no senior or junior. What matters is who is having a better match on that particular day.
“I always say it doesn't matter whether you are junior or senior. If you are having a better day then I should come up and ask you what are you doing it right to get it right. We all should follow this pattern. It increases our chances of performing better as a unit. So, in drinks break or any other break, I always try to talk to the bowler who is bowling well on that day,” Shami had said.
Does this mean Shami will be under extra pressure when he takes the field against New Zealand on October 31? Those who know him would say ‘no’. Does this mean Shami needs to prove himself every time he plays against a particular nation (read Pakistan)? Even those who are not close to him would say ‘certainly not’.