Mohammed Shami rises to the occasion with four-wicket haul in Centurion Test
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Mohammed Shami rises to the occasion with four-wicket haul in Centurion Test

Mohammed Shami’s 4/49 gave India hope against South Africa on Day 4 of the Centurion Test

cricket Updated: Jan 16, 2018 23:59 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
India vs South Africa,Mohammed Shami,Centurion Test
Mohammed Shami grabbed four wickets on Day 4 of the Centurion Test to help India bounce back against South Africa.(REUTERS)

Mohammed Shami finally came to the party on Tuesday, taking three vital South Africa wickets in the morning session to justify his spearhead tag on a day India needed him to be at his best. Shami ended with 4/49, his second best bowling effort away from home, but there is an unmistakable feeling that he could have got a five-wicket haul had India planned better. (IND v SA 2nd Test, Day 4 HIGHLIGHTS | SCORECARD)

Though he has opened the bowling for India, Shami is better with a slightly older ball. Every time he had opened the bowling, Shami looked out of rhythm. And it didn’t change despite switching ends. Tuesday was perhaps perfect conditions for him --- a fourth day abrasive pitch and a slightly older ball makes Shami look a different bowler altogether.

Barring a boundary that came off a very loose delivery, Shami’s first spell of the morning was largely incident-free as Dean Elgar and AB de Villiers looked to play him out. First ball of his second spell, de Villiers tapped him past wide slip for a boundary but Shami quickly found his line this time.

Shami though got him with a peach of a delivery that reared form good length spot. Elgar, who scored a vigilant 61, was finally done in by a short Shami delivery from round the wicket. De Kock was dismissed quickly but not without some drama in the three previous deliveries.

His first edge flew past Rohit Sharma at wide slip. Next one was just out of Parthiv Patel’s outstretched hand before another had gone past second slip. De Kock however looked determined to keep India’s slip region busy, again edging a good length delivery from Shami that was safely pouched by Patel.

Shami was on a roll by this time, hitting the good length and getting some shape on almost every delivery. But two overs reducing South Africa to 163/5, he was inexplicably pulled out of the attack and not given a bowl for the next 29 overs. Instead of going in for the kill with the most successful bowler, India suddenly took their foot off the pedal and started playing the waiting game.

Hardik Pandya and Ishant Sharma deliberately bowled wide and conceded 14 runs in 11 overs bowled in tandem but India just weren’t creating any chances. That period not only allowed South Africa to rebuild their innings in the form of a 46-run partnership between Faf du Plessis and Vernon Philander but may have also cost India this Test.

Shami not worried by dropped catches

Speaking to reporters after the day’s play, Shami didn’t take kindly to questions about his inconsistent bowling in this series before the second innings in Centurion. In Cape Town as well as in the first innings here, Shami was looking flat at times and seemed to lack rhythm too.

“I don’t know what you guys are watching,” said Shami when asked about this on Tuesday. “You want I should always come as a storm. I don’t understand this. You have to bowl according to the wickets and how much bounce, carry, etc. You have to see these things because it is a five day match and not a two hour match. You have to save energy, you have to see for the team, you have to see all these things, when do you put effort, that is more important,” Shami almost said in one breath.

Asked about the slip catching that has been below-par for some time now, Shami asked not to read too much into the dropped catches. “You are counting a bit too much, but it is not like this,” he said. “When you make a unit and get 15 guys to play for the country so then you should have self belief, and mix up with each other so that this is our best and we will make him stand in slips. It is part of the game that you will drop some catches but we are not robots or machines that we will catch all of them. We can only try and then the rest is dependent on luck,” he said.

Shami however said he was surprised getting a subcontinental pitch at a venue known to favour fast bowling. “I didn’t expect the ball would stay so low in this wicket. Till now in overseas conditions we haven’t seen such a slow and low keeping wicket. I don’t know what they were thinking when they made this wicket. But whatever it is we have to play on it as the conditions are same for both teams. Tomorrow we will try to win,” he said.

First Published: Jan 16, 2018 23:56 IST