If Mohammed Shami is the Ustad (master) of the full ball and seam-up pace bowling in India, Mohammed Siraj is his shagird (protege).
While the protege has stolen the limelight in the four ODIs in 2023 so far, the master was at his artistic best on Saturday, with Siraj playing the support role to perfection. The duo’s lethal opening spell, dominated by Shami’s literally unplayable deliveries, spelt doom to the New Zealand top-order.
Riding on his effective, economical and rewarding spell, India bundled the Kiwis out for a meagre 108 to make Raipur’s maiden international game truly memorable.
Game-time is priority
Despite being the seniormost pacer in India’s unit, Shami downplayed a query about his evolving role in the team, especially in Jasprit Bumrah’s absence. But he stressed the fact that game-time was the top-most priority in an era dominated by workload management.
“I always prefer playing a match over practice. It is always better to play as many games as possible in preparation for a big event,” Shami said after being adjudged Player-of-the-Match in India’s second ODI against New Zealand.
“Load is being managed and it is being managed properly. I just hope the main players stay in a good zone (ahead of the World Cup).” Despite brushing aside a query about his role, it is evident from his on-field demeanour that Shami has been playing the role of a senior to perfection.
He has been constantly in the younger pacers’ ears, be it Siraj or Shardul Thakur or Umran Malik during nets sessions.
“I always talk to the bowlers. I know when someone is putting in the effort, but not getting the desired results, it can be very helpful if you talk to your partner. That is the role I like to play when I am bowling,” he said.
With the teams having travelled to Indore on Sunday afternoon for Tuesday’s last ODI, India may be tempted to rest Shami and give pace sensation Umran a game.
Even if he is off the field, one can rest assured that Shami would do his bit to help another youngster.