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Plan was to not give openers room: Shami

Ensuring line and length were on the mark was important says India pacer

Ensuring line and length were on the mark was important says India pacer

India pacer Mohammed Shami’s first spell to send back Australia’s top three batsmen for 32 runs was the highlight for the hosts in the washed out fourth ODI at the JSCA International Stadium. Brought into the team for the match in Ranchi, he used the conditions to his advantage to deliver a telling blow up front, after MS Dhoni opted to field in overcast conditions.

Shami dislodged Aaron Finch’s bails in his first over, while his back-of-length delivery a little later took the edge of Phillip Hughes’ bat that was pouched by Dhoni behind the stumps. In his next over he castled Shane Watson to give India a leg up.

While reflecting on his plans later, Shami spoke about utilising the conditions and told that pace with swing is important for his bowling.   

Excerpts from his interview:

Coming into the team with India 1-2 down in the series, what was the pressure like?

Once I go down in the field, I don’t think about the pressure. I just focus on my bowling and my work. If I take pressure when I am on the field, then my job will become difficult so I don’t think about those things. I think about what I have to do and work on that alone.

How did you prepare considering that bowlers have been hit so far in the tournament?

I just did the usual things. Kept in mind that along with the pace I have to ensure the line and length was right, and my main thing is where I get the swing, so I try doing that. The kind of help that the bowlers got from the wicket in the first hour showed how good it was to bowl out there today. 

What was your plan? Can you tell us about the three wickets?

I had thought that I won’t give their openers room and our plan was to concede as few runs as possible; so that is what I was working to do. And the plan was successful. 

You varied the length and even pitched the ball up. What were your plans?

The important thing today was that it was a fresh wicket and so it is a given that there would help for the bowlers from the wicket in the first hour. And there was good carry as well and there was movement; so that was good for me. So I was trying to use the conditions. With the swing and the carry it was good for me to bowl at the batsmen.

After getting three wickets up front India were unable to maintain that pressure as Australia nearly got to 300. Your thoughts?  

We had benefitted from the help that we got from the wicket in the first hour. But then after the interruption due to rain, the wicket became a bit slow and low and so the wicket eased out. Once the wicket is slow and low, that does make a difference.

You were consistently bowling in high 130s and low 140s. How are you working on building and maintaining that kind of pace?

I work hard with the trainers in the gym and at the ground. So we work on maintaining ourselves.

How important is pace for you?

For me pace is important but along with that swing is also very important; so I keep working. I think pace with swing is the best thing for me.

When did you know that you will be playing today and what was the captain’s advice to you?

Captain is always calm and never says much. All the 15 players in the team have to be prepared, so everyone is. In the meeting that we have before coming we are told. Otherwise all are ready for playing.

Features and Interviews


An account of the birth of the Ranji Trophy

An account of the birth of the Ranji Trophy

The 80th edition of the Ranji Trophy, India’s premier domestic cricket championship, will commence on Sunday. 27 October 2013.

This was how it all began…

Not many people, perhaps, know that the final inspiration behind the birth of the Ranji Trophy was the firebrand England captain Douglas Jardine, whose name was otherwise besmirched by the ‘Bodyline’ controversy. When he brought the first England team to India in 1933, he was greatly impressed by the profusion of talent that he was witness to. He was particularly impressed by the eager manner in which players came together from distant places for the common purpose of playing for the country.

Talking to Indian officials on the eve of the Test match at the Bombay Gymkhana, Jardine suggested that the sooner India started a proper National Championship, the better it would be for the development of the game in the country. An intent listener was Anthony de Mello, the first Secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. It was through his efforts that a full meeting of the BCCI was called in Simla in the summer of 1934. Sikandar Hayat Khan, the then Governor of Punjab, who was also the president of the BCCI, chaired the meeting, and it was unanimously decided to start a National Championship in the coming season.

Anthony de Mello made an excellent presentation. He placed on the table an artist’s model of a well-designed trophy – a Grecian urn, two feet high, with a lid, whose handles had the symbol of Father Time, as is seen on the weather-cock at Lord’s. Even as he was halfway through his speech, Bhupinder Singh, the Maharaja of Patiala, sprung from his seat and said that he would donate the cost of the trophy to be made in gold, provided it was named after Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji, who had passed away just a year ago.

The proposal was accepted. It was only later that a debate rose over the issue of naming the National Championship after a man who had never played cricket in India. The Maharaj Kumar of Vizianagram (Vizzy) was not to let go the opportunity to oppose Patiala and his clique. He had an elegant trophy, almost equal in size, of chipped gold, made in London. It was designed by Lady Willingdon, the wife of the then Viceroy of India. Vizzy insisted that the National Championship be called the Willingdon Trophy.

It may sound strange, but when the National Cricket Championship of India started, the teams did not even know what trophy they were playing for.

Mumbai won the inaugural tournament in 1934-35, beating Northern India in the final. However, the winners’ trophy was presented to Mumbai the following year when they repeated the success. The great irony, as far as Vizzy and Co. were concerned, was that the Viceroy, Lord Willingdon, himself decided on presenting the trophy named after K.S. Ranjitsinhji.

Whatever might have happened, the Ranji Trophy had come to stay. Of all the cricket-playing countries of the world, India is the only one to have the National Championship named after a cricketing legend. Thus the great distinction of the Ranji Trophy, as compared to the plain County Championship in England, the Sheffield Shield in Australia, the Currie Cup in South Africa or the Plunkett Shield in New Zealand.

As years went by, sponsors and their brand names commanded a preference over cricketing celebrities. An attempt was made, some years ago, to prefix a sponsor’s name to our National Championship, whose format has undergone changes several times over the years. The effort, however, did not succeed, as any dilution of the original name, particularly as stately and as reverential as that of Ranji, could not be tolerated.

S.K. Sham was one of India’s most eminent cricket writers. This article was written in 2009, for the BCCI’s Ranji Trophy Platinum Jubilee Volume.