Recalled to the Indian team for the first time at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, Mohammed Shami embraced his chance with a brilliant performance against New Zealand in Dharamsala.
And the fast bowler has also opened up on the training methods he’s utilised to become even more effective in recent years.
The injury to Hardik Pandya saw India change up the balance of their side for the table-topping fixture with New Zealand, replacing the all-rounder with a batter in Suryakumar Yadav, and picking Shami over Shardul Thakur or Ravichandran Ashwin.
And the decision to include a third front-line seamer reaped big rewards, with Shami playing a pivotal role in restricting New Zealand to 273 in their first innings.
“Shami took the opportunity with both hands,” captain Rohit Sharma said.
“He's got class and so much experience and he used the conditions really well. “At one stage New Zealand put up a big partnership there, and dew came in as well. But we have to give credits to the bowlers in the back end,” Rohit added.
Shami removed three of the New Zealand top four, including both of the Black Caps’ top scorers. But the 33-year-old wasn't willing to pick out one wicket in particular that he was proud of.
“All the wickets are good. When you play for the country, I feel every wicket is important for you," Shami said.
"They say that every point in building of wickets that you compile is useful. As such, I don't like any particular wicket more,” asserted the front-line seamer.
Shami’s returns with the ball have gotten better and better in recent years, with the experienced seamer close to first-XI status in all formats for India.
And part of the reason for Shami’s improvement has been his extra training, held at home in nets that he built back in 2020.
“I prepared those facilities for myself and my younger brother who is playing from Bengal,” he explained.
“I prepared them before the lockdown because there was a lot of noise that lockdown was going to be imposed, and I knew that there would be no scope to go anywhere and it would not be safe to go anywhere. I thought it would be better to build a facility at my farmhouse.
“I ordered everything quickly and got it ready in a month, so by the time lockdown was imposed, all the facilities were completed.
“I think there is a lot of benefit because when you go home, I think mostly the boys take off, because sometimes it happens that when you are busy for 12 months, you get relaxed after going home.
“I feel that I don't get relaxed after going home. The boys start pushing more. They come to meet so that we will also play together. So, there is extra practice. I think that's better.”
Shami had been an unfortunate spectator from the bench in India’s first four matches, but says he doesn’t take selection issues to heart, and finds it best to cheer on others and learn from watching if he’s left out of the XI.
“As far as enjoying is concerned, I have told you before, that if you enjoy the success of others, you will get better results”, he said.
“I was watching everything on the bench. I will do something only when I am given the chance … but if your team is performing, your boys are moving in a rhythm, then I don't think you should feel guilty sitting outside.
“You are also a part of the team and a part of the World Cup. I think everyone should enjoy each other’s success.
“In India the biggest sport is cricket – the biggest place is the place where you are sitting," Shami added.
“You have 15 players. Four of them have to stay out. So, by being positive and enjoying, I feel you will get more results.
“So, I always think to myself, I am not here today, I will be here tomorrow. If not tomorrow, then day after tomorrow. They do come in rotation. And when your time comes, you contribute for the team. I think in that way that the one who is performing now, be happy with that. That's it.”