Mohammed Shami's performance on Day 1 is a true reflection of his talent

Mohammed Shami picked up four wickets for 71 runs in West Indies’ first innings of the first Test at Kolkata © IANS

Mohammed Shami has what it takes to be a long-term hope for India. He bowls at a fair clip, is consistent, gets movement and has good stamina. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks at the emergence of another fast-bowling talent for India.

On a lifeless track at the Eden Gardens, debutant Mohammed Shami bowled with a lot heart and reaped rich rewards for his persistence. The track may not have offered copious assistance to the seamers, but figures of four for 71 reflect the efforts of the tireless youngster. Shami did well in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) against Australia, but Test cricket is a completely different ball game. Shami vindicated the decision of the team management, who preferred him to the more experienced Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav.

Shami seems to have a sound temperament and a cool head on his shoulders. On his ODI debut against Pakistan at Delhi in early 2013, he bowled a few tight overs as India were defending a small total. The stage didn’t unnerve him, nor did the fact that India were up against their arch-rivals. And on his Test debut against West Indies, he looked relaxed and calm, looking anything but a debutant. It’s his temperament that gives him the edge and allows him to bowl consistently.

When some of the West Indian batsmen were going strong, Shami wasn’t afraid to unleash his tricks. His brisk pace adds variety to the attack. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is on the slower side, so with Shami running in from the other end, the batsmen have to make that extra adjustment. Kieran Powell tasted the consequences of not judging the pace properly. The ball climbed on him and he was caught trying to pull it across the line. By consistently hitting the 140 kmph mark, the batsmen cannot take him too lightly. And he combines that pace element with accuracy — a rare mix for a fast-bowler.

Shami was most impressive during the afternoon session on Day One when he reversed the old ball to good effect. The deliveries that got Marlon Samuels and Denesh Ramdhin were beauties. Both batsmen were locked on the crease and did not anticipate the ball coming in to them. As a result, their bats came down late and they were castled. Those two deliveries exemplified Shami’s deadly combination of pace and swing. He pitched them around the corridor of uncertainty and had the batsmen in two minds. The movement was just enough to cause problems as the ball was hurtling at a good clip.

Shami bowled a long spell in the afternoon — not an easy task for any fast-bowler in Indian conditions. He also sustained his pace right through that spell. It is that aspect which impressed the India A coach Lalchand Rajput when he took the side to the Caribbean in 2012. Back in June 2012, Shami was still an unknown quantity, but Rajput spoke highly of him, “He is strong, bowls at a sharp pace, and throughout the day. Even in the third spell of the day, he bowls around 140 kmph. He is one bowler to watch out for.’’

While the emergence of a new fast-bowling talent always excites the Indian fans, history would teach them to temper their expectations. Time and again, India has seen some of its promising fast-bowlers fall by the wayside. With the exception of Zaheer Khan, the others haven’t been as consistent or haven’t held their spots in the side in the long run. So, Shami’s emergence should be lauded, but as Aayush Puthran, my colleague at CricketCountry, suggested, it is important to nurture him and handle him with care.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)