Mohammed Shami returned with the Player of the Match award for his outstanding performance, taking 5/51 against Australia in the first one-day international (ODI) in Mohali.
After bowling the final ball of his fourth over in the first ODI against Australia, Mohammed Shami immediately signaled to the acting captain KL Rahul and headed towards the dressing room. He appeared completely exhausted. Due to the unusual dampness in Mohali, it was nearly impossible to swing the ball for fast bowlers.
Shami had already made an impact when he dismissed Mitchell Marsh in the first over. Australia had no clue that Shami was just getting started.
Despite adverse conditions, Shami returned after a break, and in the 22nd over of Australia’s innings, he struck with his second ball. Just like the new ball, Shami found the stumps of Steve Smith with his second delivery.
Shami picked up three more wickets in the death overs – Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Short, and Sean Abbott – to record the second-best bowling figures by an Indian in ODIs, with his 5/51 helping India bowl out Australia for 276 runs in 48.4 overs.
How did Shami cope with Mohali’s heat? Those who follow international cricket would know that Shami excels in challenging situations. His unblemished wrist position and subtle variations at the release point make him a potent proposition even on unresponsive batting tracks. But how did he manage to deliver under the scorching Mohali sun, despite appearing visibly tired after long spells?
“Fitness plays a crucial role. After the World Test Championship final, it was necessary to take a break because I had been playing continuous cricket for six to seven months. I felt my body needed some rest. I discussed it with the coach and captain, and we decided I should take a break. But my break is not like a typical break because I practice more at home. I have a setup at home where I practice more at home than with the Indian team,” he said during a post-match press conference.
But isn’t he concerned about the rotation policy? In the upcoming third ODI, he might have to sit on the bench when India chooses to play with a fresh set of bowlers, considering the demands of the World Cup – favored with the introduction of the new ball.
“The coach plays an important role in rotating players based on the conditions. It also depends on the opposition. I don’t think we need to play two consecutive matches before the World Cup, and as you can see, we are doing well. So, there’s no need to change plans,” he said.