Mohammad Shami, India’s No. 11, walked in to bat at Trent Bridge in the fifth over after Lunch on Day 2.
In those five overs, India had lost four wickets for four runs. Welcoming him at the crease was Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the No. 9.
They did a pretty decent job too, forming a 111-run partnership for the 10th wicket – the best in Test cricket by India’s 9 and jack against England.
En route, both the pacers got to their respective maiden Test fifties. But more importantly, they gave themselves some invaluable extra runs to bowl with on a wicket that is more Nagpur than Nottingham.
After the day’s play, Bhuvi and Shami paired up again, this time, to chat with BCCI.TV about their partnership.
Here is the conversation…
What was the plan when you came together in the middle?
Bhuvi: We knew that being the tailenders we could get out any time. But we decided that we would not get out playing a bad shot. When we both reached our 30s, I told Shami that we need to be more focused now since we’re not used to batting for long periods and so our concentration level is not so high. So, we tried harder to focus in the latter part of the innings than we did initially.
Shami: While we were batting together we were backing each other on the slow and low wicket. We said, we have to bowl on this wicket next and the more runs we score, the easier it will be for us to defend them.
What was the immediate course of action when Shami joined in?
Bhuvi: I was batting for a while when Shami came in. So I thought I would first let him watch from the other end how the wicket is playing and what the bowlers are up to. We decided that I will play out most of the first three-four overs and give him only the last ball or two. He settled down after five-six overs because the wicket was not difficult to bat on.
Shami: I was happy to watch from the other end for a while and it was a mutual decision. We don’t bat together very often and only one mistake is enough to end it all. We knew we wouldn’t get many chances to bat on such (batting friendly) wicket in England, and so we decided to make the most of it. It was wonderful that we did it when the team needed us to.
You two played some entertaining and good-looking shots off the England bowlers. Did you enjoy those?
Bhuvi: The inside-out cover drive off Moeen Ali was my favourite shot of the innings. Once you get set, it gets easier to hit such shots. As I said, all you have to ensure is that you don’t lose your concentration. It happened once or twice that both of us played a rash shot but we were lucky to not get out. It is a very different feeling to score your first Test fifty and that too overseas.
Shami (on hitting James Anderson for a four over midwicket and a six over long-on): If the ball is in my radar, I just go for the shot without bothering who the bowler is. But it was fun.
Did any of you know that Shami edged one to the keeper off Plunkett?
Shami: Honestly, I didn’t feel the edge. The strap on my helmet was moving and hitting the helmet quite a bit. So, I just thought it was that sound. When they started to appeal, I was wondering what it was for. It turned out to be a very fine edge.
Bhuvi: I too didn’t hear anything from the non-striker’s end and even the bowler didn’t appeal. It was just one of those faint edges that no one realized of. Hard luck to them.
How do you plan to bowl on this wicket?
Shami: The most important thing on this wicket will be the use of the new ball. We have to make the most of it while it is still hard and swinging. We will have to ensure that we make the batsmen play and try to get them out. It will take a lot of hard work to get the ball to reverse in these conditions and wicket. It is easier to get the SG ball to reverse; preparing the Duke ball will be a lot tougher. So, the key for us is the new ball.
Bhuvi: Whether the ball reverses or not is something we will see later on. But for me it will be crucial to bowl stump to stump – full and straight. Our main plan will be to get them out bowled or lbw and take the pitch out of equation.