India news January 5, 2016

Shami aims to put injury frustration behind


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Injury was the toughest time of my life - Shami

Of the four players lined up for a joint media interaction ahead of the Indian team's departure to Australia, Mohammed Shami came across as the most badass.

He and three others - Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey and Umesh Yadav - trotted out in suits, as did the rest of the team and the support staff later on Tuesday evening during the BCCI awards ceremony. But while the other three's placid demeanour at the press conference was complimented by their well-groomed appearance, Shami wore a rugged beard, which had a sprinkling of silver. His was a restless, even mischievous, presence. The first few questions of the session didn't involve Shami, and he amused himself by either tugging at his already loosened necktie or leaning to his right to share a joke with Umesh.

He would soon be confronted with serious questions, though. There was the inevitable one about his knee injury, which had kept him out of international cricket for nearly a year following the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. After his knee swelled up during the Adelaide Test in December 2014, Shami had played through injury during the World Cup, aware that he would have to go under the knife at some point. He tried to push his body to its limits, and in the process even had fluids extracted from his knee two days before each game.

He described injuries as an "irritating cheez [things]", and hoped - rather wishfully for a fast bowler - to never get injured again. There was a particularly lengthy follow up question that elicited a chuckle from him: "Bahut lamba savaal kiya [you have asked me a very long question]." However, he switched to a serious tone in a matter of seconds, as he elaborated upon the "toughest time of my life".

"The doctor had told me not to get out of bed for two months [after the operation]," he said. "I was only allowed to get up from my bed and go to the bathroom. Zameen par pair nahin rakh sakte ho [I couldn't even keep my feet on the ground]. The biggest blow was I couldn't play."

Shami said that his only interactions during the period were with his wife, parents, brother and sister-in-law. It was only when he met his 'band of brothers' - a phrase repeatedly used to describe the India team at the BCCI awards - before the tour of Bangladesh that he felt optimism course through him again.

"When I finally started walking without crutches, and met the team before the tour of Bangladesh, I felt like I was alive again," he recounted with palpable emotion. "That I was connecting with the world again. In those two months, I had not even seen the dining room [of my house]. I feel the period after the injury is very tough for any player, and you need great mental strength to overcome it."

Shami also spoke about the "achcha [good] feel" that came with reconnecting with cricket in any way possible, be it seeking out doctors for inputs or resuming light running and training. Despite being named in the 30-member preparatory camp ahead of the South Africa series, Shami was eventually deemed not fit enough to play. He continued to work on his rehabilitation and eventually found a place in Bengal's squad for the Vijay Hazare Trophy where he picked up three wickets in two games and followed it up with five wickets in two Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 matches.

"I had not played for a long time and the entire team was playing, so I was missing it a lot. It was very important for me to get back my rhythm and play a few matches," Shami said. "I wanted to start from where I had left off before my injury. I was feeling comfortable as I was able to bowl with the same pace, and hit the same line and length."

India captain MS Dhoni indicated that Shami was part of his plans for the World T20, and said he would look to manage his workload carefully during the Australia series. "Shami has been a very good bowler for us, especially if you see the period before he got injured," Dhoni said. "He has been equally effective for us with the new ball, in the middle overs and in the death. He has been quite consistent in his performance, and has worked really hard during his rehab. It will be interesting to see how he shapes up."

Shami, though, had by the end of the press conference returned to his prankster avatar, and was sharing a laugh with Umesh while still fidgeting with his tie. Shami was asked if he was comfortable wearing a suit and tie. "Bilkul [of course]," he replied before attracting Umesh's attention. "Bhaiya pooch rahen he ki mujhe suit pehan na achcha lagta hai [he is asking me if I like wearing a suit]," he told Umesh. "Hum toh is mein bilkul gentleman lagte hain [I look like a gentleman in this attire]."

Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Adam on January 8, 2016, 8:21 GMT

    Couldn't care less about India vs Aussie. Had enough. Bring on the Kiwis or Saffa's please.

  • sabarinath on January 8, 2016, 4:08 GMT

    God bless you Shami! He is the one reliable Right Arm fast bowler - perhaps after Srinath that looked the part and the one that India was searching for in the last 2 decades

  • Dev Mithra on January 7, 2016, 10:04 GMT

    I dont know why we are playing again in australia! Our players forgot how to play in our own grounds. We have a t20 WC india as the venue so please play more cricket in india.

  • Naresh on January 7, 2016, 6:53 GMT

    @ns1000 - I am of the same opinion about our pacers. Probably the reason why Ishant is always chosen ahead of others. His height can be used to advantage. Also the taller bowlers can pitch up then drag it short.

  • Naresh on January 6, 2016, 23:16 GMT

    Hope the boxer brings a new dimension to Indian bowling (Sran) Shami has always been our good bowler. Dont know he got injured with his pace.

  • Neil on January 6, 2016, 19:55 GMT

    No negative vibes for most Indian supporter but someone who hasn't played any cricket for almost 1 year is going to be their savior? I would like to sell some beachfront property in Arizona - any takers? Why keep picking Dhoni if India is truly to move forward in ODI and T20? Why get Yuvraj, Bhajji and Nehra back in the side? They are all in their mid 30's. wow with a capital W.

  • Neil on January 6, 2016, 19:26 GMT

    The problem with Indian seamers are that most are under 6 feet tall. Most Australians are 6'3' and taller. And the few Indian seamers taller than 6 feet happen to be on either a vegetarian or vegan diet. Not conducive to real pace bowling one reckons. All India needs to do is change the diet of 1.2 billion people and in another 20 years, it can produce fast bowlers, the likes of which have never been seen. I do think that India will get hammered in the upcoming series and T20 because Ashwin, Jadeja, Mishra and others can't make up for lack of pace bowling which BCCI hasn't addressed ever it seems. Okay, I blame the diet AND BCCI for India's woeful pace bowling attack.

  • Pranshu on January 6, 2016, 18:07 GMT

    @NAVP - Don't jump the gun. You are not omniscient. Umesh looked the most improved bowler in shamis absense. Lets hope these two fire together with ashwin so we can challenge australia. Best of luck India! Bring home one trophy possibly the T20WC!

  • Roger on January 6, 2016, 17:13 GMT

    He will not be playing all the games of both the series in Australia. He will only play a game here and there just to check his fitness. As Dhoni wants him to play in world t20, Indian team management would not risk him for any further injuries.

  • navdeep on January 6, 2016, 14:17 GMT

    5-0 in favour of australia

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