Ranchi’s own Shahbaz Nadeem rewarded for years of toil

Shahbaz Nadeem. AFP

Drafted in the squad less than 24 hours before India’s third and final Test against South Africa, Shahbaz Nadeem received the biggest gift of his career here on Saturday. Over the last five years in domestic cricket, Nadeem has been a picture of consistency, and as a just reward for his staggering numbers, the left-arm spinner made his debut on his home ground.  

Just three days ago, Nadeem was in Bengaluru, playing for Jharkhand in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. He was called up after Kuldeep Yadav picked up a shoulder niggle on the eve of the match. In the morning, Nadeem received the India cap from skipper Virat Kohli, a proud moment in his 15-year journey. “Nadeem is the local boy and it’s a dream debut. I am really happy for him. It’s all about playing consistent cricket,” Kohli said at the toss.  

Hailing from a humble background, Nadeem has bagged 424 wickets from 110 first-class games at an average of 28.59 with a career best of 7/45. Nadeem has played a pivotal role in Jharkhand’s progress from Plate Division to the Elite group of the Ranji Trophy. However, with the success of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, it was hard for Nadeem to break into the national side.

“He has always been a fighter. If you look at his record, he is mostly available for all formats of domestic cricket for Jharkhand every year. He is a tireless performer,” Jharkhand coach Rajiv Kumar told DH.  

In the 2015-16 season, he became only the second Indian to take 50 or more wickets in a season twice in Ranji Trophy after Hyderabad off-spinner Kanwaljt Singh. Last year, the 30-year-old put his name in the List A record book. With an effort of 10-4-10-8 against Rajasthan in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Nadeem registered the best bowling figures in the world in the particular format. In the recent past, he remained in contention for an India call-up courtesy his good numbers for India A.

“I have played with him for close to 20 years now. It will be frustrating for any player when he isn’t picked despite consistently being in the top five wicket-takers’ list of the Ranji Trophy. He has remained mentally strong to play with the same amount of passion every season. That speaks a lot about his character,” said India discard Saurabh Tiwary.

With the pitch here expected to assist spinners, Nadeem will be eyeing to make his debut a memorable one.    

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