Dubai: The way Indian pace bowling lynchpin Mohammad Shami bounced back from his personal problems to have a rousing 2019 season is not exactly a secret anymore. There were dark phases when he even contemplated suicide - but all those are a thing of the past now for the Kings XI Punjab warhead who is bracing up to begin his IPL 2020 campaign in less than a week’s time.
What, however, eats into him is the father’s pining for her daughter Aira, who stays with his estranged wife Hasin Jahan in Kolkata.
“I could not meet her during the lockdown. She is growing up fast. I miss her a lot,” Shami said in an interview with PTI. It was in March, 2018 when the cricketer’s world suddenly came crashing down after his wife lodged a complaint of domestic violence and infidelity against him. Things turned ugly when Jahan washing the dirty linen in public, while a custody battle is still on between the couple for Aira. Shami, meanwhile, has transferred his flat in Kolkata to his wife’s name and pays an alimony - while he divides his time between New Delhi and his native village in Uttar Pradesh.
Speaking on Kings XI team’s preparations, Shami said: “It’s been a long time since we played cricket. Everyone is happy like kids in a candy store after getting back to the sport they love the most. We had a practice match on Thursday, I didn’t face any issues. Everyone is getting back to the rhythm. I didn’t feel much difference (as I was bowling at my farmhouse),” Shami added.
Shami picked up 19 wickets at an average of 24.68 in IPL last year while he has a total of 40 wickets in IPL — the most in the current KXIP squad. He is likely to have West Indian Sheldon Cottrell as his regular new ball partner while the strapping Ishan Porel from Bengal, who had been impressive during practice sessions, will wait for his turn.
Shami remembered the lockdown months, serving the poor migrants near his house in Sahaspur, Uttar Pradesh by setting up food distribution centres with the help of his friends. “For me, it never felt like a lockdown; it just flew away. We were busy since morning arranging food, running six kitchens and in the evening I was back at practice. I am really thankful to the administration and people who helped us,” he said.
For me, it never felt like a lockdown; it just flew away. We were busy since morning arranging food, running six kitchens and in the evening I was back at practice. I am really thankful to the administration and people who helped us
Acknowledging that he will miss playing in front of big crowds, Shami also added that it is the responsibility of the cricketers to bring the smiles back for people in these tough times. “It feels great when people cheer us from the stadium, but in the current scenario when that is not possible, it’s our responsibility to cheer them up, people who are battling a difficult time.
“We can at least do that to our fans. For one season, we can play without the crowd, I don’t think there would be an issue,” Shami added.
KXIP begin their IPL 2020 campaign against Delhi Capitals on September 20 in Dubai.