Indian speedster Mohammad Shami with Mr Cricket UAE Anis Sajan
Indian speedster Mohammad Shami with Mr Cricket UAE Anis Sajan Image Credit: Supplied

By Anis Sajan, Special to Gulf News

In a one-to-one chat with Indian speedster Mohammad Shami, I got to know the humorous side of the man. Shami, who I always thought was a very serious person, made everyone laugh with his one-liner answers and was gracious enough to take pictures with the Danube staff and bought a smile to their faces on his visit to the site in Dubai.

My first question to him was about his debut Test series, which was the great Sachin Tendulkar’s final series against the West Indies, he said he still gets goosebumps about the incident when Sachin Tendulkar put his arm around him and asked Shami: “How are you feeling?” He replied to the legend: “I don’t think I will be able to bowl because of fear,” and Tendulkar motivates him, saying: “Do what you have done so far to get in the Indian team,” and Shami just did the same by picking up nine wickets in his very first Test match. Sachin gifted him a signed match ball, which he still savours.

I asked him does he sledge as a fast bowler and he said yes and no — saying a billion people see us on TV and we have to be smart when to sledge and when not to. He said fast bowlers sometimes lose the plot when they focus on sledging, as England did when they went after Jasprit Bumrah and him, bowling bouncers in the Lord’s Test match and forgot to pitch the ball up and Shami ended up scoring a match-winning 56, putting on 89 runs in an unbeatable partnership and India went on to win the match.

His ODI Debut was against Pakistan way back in 2013 when India, who were defending just 167 at Delhi, went on to win the tight game by 10 runs with Shami bowling nine tight overs for just 23 runs. He also spoke how in spite of the knee injury in the 2015 World Cup he picked up 17 wickets at an economy 4.81 with an astonishing average of 23, where he along with Umesh Yadav and Rohit Sharma were instrumental in bowling every side out until the semi-finals against Australia.

His T20 debut was against Pakistan in the 2014 T20 World Cup which they won too and he said with a wink that all his debut matches ended in wins for India. He has performed exceptionally for Punjab Kings in the Indian Premier League in the past three years, picking up 19, 20 and 19 wickets respectively and has been their spearhead leading from the front. He spoke about how he defended just five runs in the super over against Mumbai Indians which ended in a tie and how they managed to beat them in the second super over — the first time in the history of IPL.

He signed off by saying he has become the man he is because of the game of cricket and when he wears the India jersey he gives his all for the team and will continue to do so un til his last game — and that MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli have been instrumental in shaping his career and have always backed him to the core.

Cricket enthusiast Anis Sajan is Vice-President of Danube Group