Mohammad Shami, who began his journey in 2006, realised his dream of playing for India in a Test here on Wednesday.
On the opening day of the first Test between India and the West Indies at the Eden Gardens, Shami’s exhibition of fast bowling with deceptive movement gave him four wickets for 71 and paved the way for India’s domination.
“It’s a big achievement for me that I made my debut in a match where Sachin Tendulkar was playing,” said the 23-year-old Bengal pacer.
“I dedicate my debut performance to Tendulkar. Also I am indebted to my family for backing me all the way,” he said. “The debut wicket (Kieran Powell) will always remain special for me though all the wickets are important,” he said.
It was in 2006-07 that his coach, Badruddin Siddique from U.P., brought him to Kolkata and asked Dalhousie Athletic Club coach, Sreemanta Hazra, to give the boy a chance.
“I had no place for Shami in my team,” Hazra said. “When the boy looked dejected, I thought I should at least ask him to bowl at the nets. His pace was good for his frail figure and I decided to keep the kid,” he said.
Shami, who hailed from a modest background, switched over to Town Club, a leading side in the local first division side, on Hazra’s advice.
“When I saw him playing for Dalhousie, I knew this boy was special,” said Debabrata Das, who got Shami to Town. Shami was with Town for three years and was selected for the Bengal U-22 side in 2008-09.
Shami moved to Mohun Bagan in 2010-11. He not only made his Bengal debut versus Assam but blossomed as a good bowler. Since then Shami has not looked back.
W.V. Raman, under whom Shami made his Ranji debut, said, “This is an indication of his strong temperament and an endorsement of his ability to perform on different pitches.”
Knowing on Tuesday evening itself that he would be making his debut Shami was ready for the show.
Bengal coach, Ashok Malhotra, felt that Shami should be handled carefully. “He can clock 140 kmph plus and has a nice action which will help him avoid injury. Even if he fails in a match or two later, he should be persisted with. He will serve India for long,” said Malhotra.
A predominantly outswing bowler with the occasional sharp off-cutter, Shami has the ability to reverse the semi-old ball which has proved to be his biggest asset.
“Not many Indian fast bowlers can reverse the ball as Shami does,” said former India captain Sourav Ganguly. “I had predicted that he will play for India and he has proved it. He is going to do well for the country,” Ganguly added.
Shami joined Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL 2012 season but did not get a chance to play. He, however, utilised the opportunity to work with Pakistani pace legend, Wasim Akram.
The KKR mentor and bowling coach taught him a trick or two and that began to show the next season. In 14 ODIs he picked up 17 wickets with three for 42 as his best. He has 71 first class wickets with seven for 79 as his best.