Mohammed Shami (right) has taken eight wickets in the first two games © IANS (File Photo)
Mohammed Shami has taken eight wickets in the first two games © IANS (File Photo)

For a fairly long time, Indian bowlers have been famous for conceding big totals, especially on home conditions. Poor death overs bowling had been a major part of this issue. However, off late Mohammed Shami has developed in to a reliable death overs bowler. Abhijit Banare looks at the transformation of the pacer.

It’s not an unusual situation to hear an Indian captain cribbing about his bowlers leaking runs in the end. In fact MS Dhoni too has been furious at his bowlers gifting runs with brainless bowling on a number of occasions. He has pointed out that the bowlers need to feel tested and emerge successful in death overs. However, the change is on its way and one can just hope that it stays with the Indian team for a while.

In Mohammed Shami, India finally seem to have found a bowler who can deliver a miserly over towards the end and can help the team to to claw back. In the One-Day Internationals (ODIs) in England, Shami showed glimpses of perfectly pitching the ball fuller and forcing batsmen to consistently dig it out.

Yet there was still a lack of reliability in Shami to repeat such performances time and again. The pacer finally seems to be inching closer to perfection if his spells against West Indies in the first two ODIs are evidence of his abilities.

In the first ODI at Kochi, Shami bowled four overs between 40-50 overs that cost 35 runs, bagging three wickets in the process. He was incisive in patches delivering 10 yorkers and full length deliveries, only one of which was hit for a boundary. Apart from that he also dished out five low full-tosses which turned in to scoring opportunities for the batsmen. However, the intent was clear. 15 of the 24 legitimate deliveries were on the fuller side. Not many would disagree that Shami is more ‘back of length’ bowler like Ishant Sharma and unlike Bhuvneshwar Kumar who can pitch it up regularly. Hence it’s impressive to note the efforts taken by Shami. He presented a similar performance at Delhi keeping it fuller and the back of length deliveries were pitched in the corridor of uncertainty.

After the match, Shami elaborated at length in the interview published on the official website of BCCI. “I don’t find it too difficult to bowl at the death because I know for a fact that the less mistakes I make the better it will be for me. The thing about death bowling is that you have to be very clear and accurate with your plans. One small mistake while bowling at the death and you get hit for runs. As a bowler the focus is always on giving less width for the batsmen to hit. You have to use your mind while bowling under those circumstances.”

Those seemed confident words from the pacer despite being scored off having missed his length a few times. A few months ago, both Bhuvneshwar and Umesh Yadav had stated that they were working on their bowling at the death. But it’s easier said than done. The confidence needs to be backed up by skill and mental strength to deliver under pressure situations.

In the last few months there has been a gradual transformation in Shami’s approach and he appears to be improving by the day. The reason someone like Shami would be more effective than other bowlers is because of his pace. Batsmen can still improvise at the last moment against Bhuvneshwar but making that adjustment against Shami is difficult due to the speed at which he bowls.

As he progresses, another skill Shami would love to add is the ability to reverse at the death. Someone like Waqar Younis was famous for that yorker which tailed back in. Shami has shown in the past his ability to reverse the ball. If he manages to add this to his repertoire, Shami could go on to become a quality death overs bowler.

All these are positive signs for Indian bowling ahead of the ICC World Cup 2015. But Shami needs to be backed by bowlers with similar abilities. It doesn’t add up to much if the bowler from the other end makes up for his partner’s miserly over by gifting loose deliveries. Bhuvneshwar has showed the desirable accuracy and it’s time the others match up to it as well.

Complete coverage of India vs West Indies 2014

(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on @AbhijitVirgo)