A debut to remember for Mohammed Shami

He was breathing fire in the post-lunch session on the opening day of the first India-West Indies Test at the Eden Gardens yesterday. But speedster Mohammed Shami had one polite request to the media at the end of the day. “Please get my name right. Somehow, the Board made me Shami Ahmed, but my real name is Mohammed Shami,” he said softly, amidst peals of laughter amongst those assembled in the room.

Mohammed Shami
India pacer Mohammed Shami celebrates a wicket against the West Indies on Day One of the first Test at Eden Gardens yesterday

Unlike his bowling, which averaged about 142kmph on the speedometer yesterday, Shami comes across as a mild and soft-spoken individual, still coming to terms with the rapid progress he has made in the last one year. But the determination to succeed was evident during the entire course of the West Indies innings.

Keeping in mind the success that Shami enjoyed against Australia in the recently concluded ODI series, the think tank handed him the India cap yesterday, along with Rohit Sharma, and the youngster who moved to Kolkata from Amroha, a small town in Uttar Pradesh, a few years ago
certainly did not disappoint.

Ripped through WI
He ripped apart the heart of the Windies middle order, triggering a collapse from which the visitors could never recover. They were comfortably placed at 107-2 at lunch, but from then on it was the Mohammed Shami show all the way. Having received his cap from Ishant Sharma, the 23-year-old had already impressed in the morning taking his first Test wicket in the form of opener Kieran Powell, but it was his bowling in the afternoon that mesmerised everyone.

He clean bowled the in-form Marlon Samuels for 65 and followed it up with Denesh Ramdin’s scalp — uprooting his off-stump with the stumper having little idea about the delivery. And by the time he had his last man Sheldon Cottrell, it was curtains for WI. Darren Sammy & Co had been sent packing for a mere 234, on a track which the hosts will relish batting on today.

Thereafter, openers Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay saw through the remaining 12 overs of the day putting on 37 runs. So how different was the experience given the fact that bowlers were sent on a leather hunt in the Indo-Aus ODI contest. “Well, for me it was only the change in colours of the ball,” said Shami with a straight face. “I focus only on bowling in the right areas and hope to get wickets,” he added.

Dedicated to Sachin
He dedicated his performance to Sachin Tendulkar and his family. “What else could I have asked for? Playing for India in Sachin Tendulkar’s company was a dream. And I will also thank my family who backed me in a place where cricket had no presence.” 

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