Sun, 22 Jan 2023 02:15 PM IST
Since the start of the year, Mohammed Shami didn't have the best of the starts in first four ODIs, picking as many wickets. But in Raipur on Saturday, Shami was at his vintage best, scything through the New Zealand batting line-up to set the base for a comprehensive eight-wicket victory, giving India an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
His set-up of Finn Allen in the opening over of Raipur's first international match was a treat to watch. Three outswingers were followed by a straight delivery, before the nip-backer hit the stumps after evading the bat and brushing past the back pad.
With his straight seam position and bowling on good length consistently, Shami never gave any freebies to the Blackcaps batters, deceiving Daryl Mitchell to take a superb low catch and then bounced out Michael Bracewell after switching to over the wicket angle to make the result of the match a foregone conclusion.
"Conditions were not as helpful to the bowlers as it may have appeared. They got out early but conditions were not overtly bowler-friendly. We dismissed them cheaply by bowling a testing length. It was a damp wicket but it was important to keep good line and length. All the bowlers were disciplined and the result is for all to see," he said in the post-match press conference.
Since his ODI debut in 2013, Shami has been seen as a bowler who can get wickets upfront and insisted his role in the team hasn't changed. "As a new-ball bowler, it's important to assess the conditions and pass the message quickly to the other bowlers as well. My role hasn't changed since I have come into the team. The only thing is to keep working on fitness and diet. We have got big events coming up so the aim is to contribute in every game."
With workload management being the buzzword in an ODI World Cup year, Shami stated he would like to play as many games as possible ahead of the marquee tournament to be hosted by India in October-November.
"I would prefer to play as many games because that prepares me best for any tournament and that the reality of a bowler is seen then. The team management is managing everyone's workload, not just mine, and it is happening very well. I hope that our main players are always in the zone (ahead of the World Cup)."
Shami also thinks people shouldn't doubt the capabilities of the Indian bowling attack in home conditions after bowling out New Zealand for a paltry 108. "I don't think people still doubt our bowling attack. But even after that you have your doubts for the World Cup, there is a long time to go. We have so many players to try out, so many games to be played."
With the series in the bag, India could be tempted to make some changes for the final ODI at Indore on Tuesday. Shami signed off by saying the call for making changes will be taken by the team think-tank. "The management will take a call on the playing XI for the third ODI. But if we have won the series, I don't think it would be a bad call to give some players a rest. Team management will have to take the call on that."