Mohammed Shami has been out of action for four months. The last he played a game in whites was in November 2016 against England in Mohali. Since then, his knee began acting up and he was ruled out for the remainder of the two games of the series in Mumbai and Chennai. Shami went back to the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru and began his rehabilitation process to regain full fitness.
The last time he was at the NCA during the ongoing Test series against Australia, he was seen bowling full tilt with minimal discomfort. He has been traveling with the current Indian contingent and is being closely monitored by the team management. Shami had a long stint at the nets on the eve of the final Test in Dharamsala and said he was feeling confident about his bowling.
Shami bowled for more than an hour at the nets in Dharamsala with short breaks in between. He looked in no discomfort whatsoever and there were no compromises in pace as well. “In my drills, I am increasing my stamina slowly and the progress has been good. The work is going on well. I am completely ready to play the short formats and I don’t think I have an issue with that. I did have my doubts about my participation in the final Test here in Dharamsala but after going though my drills and bowling at the nets, I am feeling comfortable.”
The fast bowler believed the management had played a huge role in making him feel comfortable and keep him in good stead to use his services when need be. “The activities, the routines and drills are quite different when you are traveling with the team. You feel very comfortable when you are around your teammates and have the support of the team management. They give a lot of confidence and a player going through a comeback from injury benefits a lot.
“I never expected myself to be out of action for such a long time,” he continued. “I miss being a part of this side and when you are not traveling with the team, you miss it even more. I watch the matches and think how it would have been had I been in that situation and what my bowling partners are doing on the field.”
For Shami, the wait to get into the squad has been frustrating and testing, especially at a time when he was in a good bowling form. “It is a frustrating process to be out of action when you are bowling at your peak. Physically you are down, but you got to be very strong mentally. You need to have complete dedication towards your rehabilitation. Even now, I always tell myself that I am hundred per cent fit and have the same intensity like the last time I walked on the field. That boosts my confidence. During such times, the family support matters a lot. When you speak to your loved ones and they give you confidence, you feel good and it helps you mentally.”
Shami has been keeping a close watch on the ongoing Test series and has been giving his two cents to his fellow pacers. He believed the Indian pacers have done a great job in the series so far. “I think our pacers have done really well in this series. Our fast bowlers have been bowling with a lot of pace in the right areas. Our fast bowlers are quicker and more accurate than theirs (Australia).
“We often discuss bowling plans and share our own take on certain match situations. The bond between the pacers in the side is great and it helps for the team’s cause. I believe we are moving well as a unit. Hopefully we can put up a good all-round bowling performance and can win the series 2-1.”
Shami has good memories of playing in scenic Dharamsala. Will he make a return in the final Test? Time will only tell. “I have played a lot of matches here in Dharamsala and I have fond memories of the same. I hope and wish that I walk on to the ground for the fourth Test and help the team win the Test.”