For Indian pace bowler Mohammed Shami, Thursday was a red-letter day. It was almost after a year that he was able to complete a spell when he turned in to bowl against the West Indies in the practice match at Eden, and marked the return of one of India’s finest bowlers.
The 26-year-old Shami, who had his knee operated on last year after the last World Cup in Australia, has struggled to make it to the team due to lack of proper recovery. He was also part of the Asia Cup squad, but had to pull out at the last minute.
What is more heartening for Shami fans is the fact that he returned with figures of 2 for 30 in the warm-up match — a feat which his most ardent fans would not have expected. But then a fully fit Shami can be a real asset for Team India in the ongoing World T20 championships.
“I think the fact that he claimed two wickets is a very good sign. Mind you, if you have not played for a year, then to bowl a good spell in your first return competitive match is never an easy task. The fact that he (Shami) could claim two wickets would give him a lot of confidence,” said Rajinder Amarnath, a former cricketer.
"I think the fact that Shami was careful in taking his time off and resting was also a good sign. International cricket is all about playing non-stop and the players get virtually no rest. In such a scenario, it is imperative that the bowler takes proper rest and that one does not aggravate one’s injury, So from that point of view, I am happy that Shami was properly rested,” Amarnath said.
Shami came in for praise from opener Rohit Sharma. "It's never easy for a fast bowler to come back from a knee injury. He's worked really hard. It was his first game after the injury and he did pretty well. He has been working really hard all this while. He executed the plans really well. He bowled bouncers, yorkers and slower ones. That's what we expect from him. He was one of the main bowlers till the last time he played for India; so there will be expectations from him," Sharma said.
"He was working real hard at the nets yesterday, trying to get his rhythm back. He just wanted to go out in the park and play. It's about having a feel of the conditions and the atmosphere. Once he got in the groove, he bowled well with the new ball and did well with the old one,“ Sharma added.
But there are those who feel that Shami may not find a place since both Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah are doing so well. “I fail to understand how Shami can find a place in the Indian team, especially when you have both Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah doing so well. Bumrah, in particular, has been very impressive and the fact that Shami has just recovered from an injury does not guarantee him a place in this strong Team India bowling line-up,” said a former Team India bowler.