You cannot ask for a better debut: Nadeem

Shahbaz Nadeem, coming in as a replacement for the injured Kuldeep Yadav, has given a good account of himself in the third Test against South Africa. afp

Though he got his first Test cap on Saturday, Shahbaz Nadeem had to wait for two full days to make an appearance for India. It was only on Monday when he came to bowl and the television screen flashed ‘Shahbaz Nadeem, 30 years, left-arm spinner’, did the Jharkhandi live his dream.

As a youngster, seeing his idols play the game on the television inspired Nadeem to play for the country. One day, he too wanted to be in India colours on television. “I have worked hard to reach here and it’s been a good journey. As a cricketer, you dream to come on TV after watching so many players achieve big on TV. I always wanted people to watch me playing for India on TV and it feels great,” he told reporters here at the end of third day’s play of the third Test.

For someone who had to wait for 15 years to play international cricket, it doesn’t matter how and when he gets a call-up. It’s all about being ready to seize the opportunity, Nadeem pointed out.

“When you have played so many years of cricket, you are ready to play a 6:00 am game even if you get a call at 4:00 am. It was around 2:30 pm on Friday and I was reading Namaaz when my phone kept ringing. After my prayers, I was told that I was picked for the third Test. I came via road from Kolkata and joined the team,” he recollected.

The stars couldn’t have aligned better for Nadeem. His home ground being the venue for the debut was the icing on the cake. However, he still had to fight butterflies in his stomach and make his chance count. Using his vast experience of first-class cricket, Nadeem produced a fine show, picking two wickets and inflicting a run-out through a direct hit.    

“You cannot ask for a better debut. This (Ranchi) is where I have played all my childhood. It was my local crowd that was in front of me. They cheered for me and I was overwhelmed,” he confessed.

Great consistency

Nadeem kept knocking on the doors of the senior Indian team with great consistency, both in domestic and India A competitions. But the opportunity took a long time to arrive. Nadeem explained how he remained motivated during testing times.

“As a cricketer, you have to be very realistic. You must see whether the spot you are fighting for is available or not. If not, the only option is to keep performing. Our spinners were doing well so I was patient. And my smooth transition from first-class cricket to India A kept me prepared for the bigger task. I was ready,” he explained.

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