Team India boasts of a fast-bowling attack that skipper Virat Kohli says he is proud to lead. And the man who has been an integral part of the transformation of a young attack into world beaters is Mohammed Shami. Having started off under former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Shami is now the leader of the pack under Kohli.
Speaking to IANS, even as the sporting world has come to a standstill due to the coronavirus outbreak, Shami not only throws light on becoming one of the best exponents of the reverse swing, but also talks about the relationship he shares with skipper Kohli. And most importantly, how it is vital for every Indian to stay safe and stay indoors in this fight against the pandemic.
“I try to ensure that my pace doesn’t fall below the 140kph mark. But my focus is on the seam and swing. I have always tried to make sure that these two things remain perfect. I can bring pace with my physical strength and you can always work on it by doing strength training. But I have always given priority to swing and seam and never for a minute let them take a backseat,” he smiles.
“As you keep playing, you learn a lot of things. It is all about following one process after the other. So, when you have learnt one trick and mastered it, you then move to the next one and work on that. In the beginning, I didn’t have much idea about reverse swing.
“Do I need to say this? I think the results bear testimony to the fact that Virat backs us to the core. He has always given us that freedom to do what we feel confident about. Also, it is very important at the international level to have a captain who knows your strengths and weaknesses and also backs you. This in turn helps you raise your game.
So how would Shami the pacer dismiss Kohli the batsman?
“There are a lot of things that come with playing and spending quality time with another player. You not only come to know of his strengths, but also of his weaknesses. As a bowler, you need to keep working on the weak zones. There is no denying the fact that he is the best in the business, but even the best has those little flaws which you can work on. You just need to pick on one factor and focus on that.
“Mindset obviously does change as per the format. In terms of skills also you do need to change and adapt as per the format because what will work for you in Tests might not work for you in the shorter formats of the game. It is all about the mindset and how you adapt to the situation,” he said.
“Match practice is a different ball game altogether, but this situation isn’t in anyone’s hand and you have to work your way out of this. As a sportsperson you need to stay in top shape and if you don’t have the facilities (indoors) then it is a problem in such a phase. In fact, I am also sharing workout videos on social media to help people understand the need to stay fit as it helps keep the mind fresh,” he said.
“It is a very difficult time and conditions are not easy. Nobody ever thought that something like this will happen and to be honest we weren’t prepared for this. It is a time where everyone has to come together. Most importantly, we are not used to staying indoors for so long. But that is the call of the hour and we must abide by the directions given to fight the pandemic. Also, I request everyone to use masks and sanitizers because that is the way forward,” he signed off.