Battler Shami brushes setbacks aside

Breaks free from a half year of continuous blow to fitness and reputation

 Mohammed Shami celebrates after taking the wicket of England's Dawid Malan. Reuters
Highlights: 
The gritty 27-year-old Shami summoned all his courage to pass the fitness test to make the cut for England tour, and on a sun-kissed Wednesday at Edgbaston, he let all that pain and frustration fly away with a fine performance to signal his return.

Mohammed Shami has had a harrowing time ever since he returned from India's tour of South Africa early this year. Firstly, his wife Hasin Jahan filed a domestic violence case against him that dominated the headlines in March. She also accused him of being involved in an extra-marital affair and match-fixing. The series of allegations, despite not being proved in the court of law, saw the BCCI keep the pacer temporarily out of the annual central contract before reinstating him later.

Reports then emerged that the seamer was involved in a road accident while travelling from Dehradun to Delhi before the Indian Premier League. Even though he didn’t suffer major injuries, the accident and all the mental agony caused by the personal issues saw Shami play just four matches in the IPL where he performed poorly.

Trying to find his way back, Shami’s career took another nosedive when he failed to clear the Yo-Yo test that saw him miss the one-off Test against Afghanistan in July. The gritty 27-year-old then summoned all his courage to pass the fitness parameter set by the current think-tank to make the cut for England tour. And, on a sun-kissed Wednesday at Edgbaston in the first Test, he let all that pain and frustration fly away with a fine performance to signal he was back stronger than ever.

Shami’s performance was crucial in India getting back into the game after Keaton Jennings and Joe Root had taken England to a solid position at lunch. Thankfully, there were no fitness concerns for the pacer as he took 2/64 in 19 overs.

Swinging the ball both ways at high pace, it didn’t look like Shami was away from the circuit. He troubled the English batsmen with his movement and his two-wicket burst just after lunch was like those spells one is accustomed to seeing from him.

'Extremely trying six months'

Shami admitted the last six months was extremely trying and all that he wanted to do during that time was to play cricket. “South Africa was a long time ago and there have been some off-field issues after that. I had to fight a lot in between but my thought was that I have to keep doing what I love most and what is most important to me which is to play cricket. I wanted to just keep doing my job and then see what happens to the rest of the stuff in my life. Whatever difficulties I faced, first I wanted to play cricket and keep doing it. The result is in front of us.”

Shami’s performance was crucial in India getting back into the game after Keaton Jennings and Joe Root had taken England to a solid position at lunch. Thankfully, there were no fitness concerns for the pacer as he took 2/64 in 19 overs. With R Ashwin claiming 4/60, India restricted the hosts to 285 for nine at close.

England's Keaton Jennings is bowled by India’s Mohammed Shami. Reuters
England's Keaton Jennings is bowled by India’s Mohammed Shami on Day 1 of the first Test match at Birmingham. Reuters

"Injuries happen, we do rehab and work in the National Cricket Academy (NCA). All of us at the NCA put in a lot of hard work. The only difference is that we don’t play matches. But we are continuously working in the nets, getting treatment and recovering. We plan according to what series we are going to play, depending on conditions and opposition, we prepare and move ahead," he said.

Shami reckoned ups and downs are part of life and one needs to encounter them to become a stronger person. “As a bowling unit and as an individual, I am very happy today. This is the thing I have worked hard for and we have been able to bring it forward successfully. There are ups and downs in life and in your family but when playing for your country there is a responsibility and when you do that job properly, I think that’s the best thing. So I am very happy with my performance today.”

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Battler Shami brushes setbacks aside

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