Shami went on to become the fastest Indian to reach 100 ODI wickets during the series against New Zealand, surpassing Irfan Pathan. @ AFP

There’s no denying that India pacer Mohammed Shami has put in the hard yards to revive his ODI career. Shami, who was dropped from the one-off Test against Afghanistan in June last year, was also bogged down with personal problems relating to his wife.

After battling a number of injury issues which foiled his chances of a comeback, Shami finally ticked the right boxes which has now made him a potent force at the highest level. In the ODI series in New Zealand, he was adjudged the Man of the Series for picking nine wickets in four matches at an average of 15.33. The 28-year-old went on to become the fastest Indian to reach 100 ODI wickets during the series, surpassing Irfan Pathan.

“Yes, it has been a very difficult period. I never run away from difficult circumstances. I face them bravely and always remain positive. As far as cricket is concerned, it took me nearly 18 months to recover from the knee injury and play for the country again. Not just physically, it is mentally very disturbing too. You have to be very strong to counter it. Patience is the key as the daily procedure, the recovery regime, the repetitive nature of the entire thing can irritate and depress anyone. It is difficult to sit out and watch the team playing matches without you. I will never forget that year and a half of my life after the last World Cup,” Shami told India Today in an interview on Saturday. (ALSO READ: I want to win the Australia series and dedicate it to the martyrs in the Pulwama attack: Shami)

“I am thankful to God that I have been able to make this record. There are many reasons behind it. Biggest is the unbelievably brilliant atmosphere in the dressing room, followed by the confidence that I have in ability right now and also the things that I continue to learn from our coaches.

“Everything has contributed and combined to take me to another level. There are many minute things which bring in a lot of confidence and help us to get into the rhythm. For instance, not just on the ground, have a look at the way we (Indian players) treat each other off the field too. We enjoy every little thing. This helps a great deal.”

Shami, currently bowling his best in his career thus far, was singled out by coach Ravi Shastri as a stand-out player in the past five months. (ALSO READ: If Mohammed Shami develops a good yorker, it will be the icing on the cake: Karsan Ghavri)

“I am grateful that I have been very fit over the last seven, eight months. I want to continue focusing on my line and length. That is exactly what I did and the results are there for everyone to see. I am all ready for the ICC World Cup 2019. As you can see, I have lost weight too. I am trying to improve my fitness and focus on the game. I want to give my best,” he said.

He credited his captain Virat Kohli’s ruthlessness in attitude when it comes to fitness and performances that expedited his comeback.

“I feel the biggest factor for my comeback has been the change in the culture of the team, the fitness awakening that we have had has had a huge impact on me. I looked at others and worked on my game. I have enjoyed it fully. The fitness culture that we have in our team is amazing, you cannot even think about it. We have changed it completely in the last four or five years,” he said.

“Also, the best thing about Virat is that the players feel comfortable to discuss anything with him. A captain should know how to get the best out of each player and Virat is a master in it. The biggest plus about him as a captain is that all of us always remain chilled out, bindaas and discuss anything with him. With a free hand that he has given, we are able to achieve everything.” (ALSO READ: Relentlessness of my team is something that really pleases me: Virat Kohli)

India begin their World Cup campaign against South Africa on June 5 at Southampton. As is the case, flat tracks at England will not pose a problem to the Indian pacers, according to Shami.

“I think we will witness exciting contests in England. The wickets will be good, the conditions will be excellent. Not only the ball will be hit all over the park but will also carry for the bowlers. So, it will be a 50-50 scenario for both. Execution will be the key, how much a bowler can focus on his line and length will be the key.”

A lot of India’s success of late has been due to the success of the bowling department, but Shami feels the bowling department is a good mix of pacers and spinners. (ALSO READ: Sticking to areas where we want to bowl is the key, says Mohammed Shami)

“You need a package and we have a full package. Be it the pacers, the spinners or even the part-timers, everyone is perfect in making a contribution. The role of Kedar (Jadhav) is also brilliant in between all of us. We have fast, swing, variations and all the other qualities you can think of in the three formats. This is the reason why our bowling attack is the best in the world right now,” he explained.