‘You need that kind of pace’: Mohammed Shami confident India’s fast bowlers can repeat 2018/19 heroics

One of the big factors behind India’s 2-1 win over Australia in the 2018 Border-Gavaskar Trophy was the fact that their bowlers were able to pick 20 wickets in seven innings out of eight. India’s bowlers took a combined 70 wickets with Jasprit Bumrah leading the pack with 21 scalps, while Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma claimed 16 and 11 wickets respectively.

This time around, the presence of David Warner and Steve Smith will make the challenge stiffer for India for sure, but Shami is confident that his teammates, especially the fast bowlers, are confident of another brilliant show Down Under.

“Our fast bowling group can bowl at 140 kph plus and you need that kind of pace in Australia. Even our reserves are quick, you don’t get to see that kind of an attack. We thrive on challenges. We have the experience. We have variety in our spin bowling attack too,” Shami told BCCI.

“We can bowl fast but we are all different, our skills are different. India have quality batsmen and we bowl at them in the nets. We don’t look at names, we focus on our skills. You can be a world-class batsman, but one good ball will still get you out.”

Over the last couple of years, India’s fast bowling contingent has emerged to become one of the – if not the best – in the world and Shami reveals that the reason behind the success is how well this unit has gelled and bonded.

“The success of this group is largely because of the camaraderie we share among ourselves. There is no real secret as such but it lies in each other’s strengths. We have a common goal and all of us look to collectively achieve that,” the fast bowler said.

“There is a healthy competition but there is no rivalry within the group. If you look at the numbers, we have managed to pick 20 wickets almost on all our away tours. Even at home in the Freedom Trophy or the pink-ball Test, the fast bowling group was very effective. We have a lot of discussion among ourselves. We hunt in pairs.”

Shami enters the Australia tour on the back of a wonderful IPL, where playing for Kings XI Punjab, the 30-year-old quick picked up 20 wickets from 14 matches. At one stage, Shami was neck-and-neck with Kagiso Rabada, who eventually won the Purple Cap, before falling behind. But the kind of rhythm with which he bowled in the UAE was the perfect tonic Shami needed coming out of lockdown and into the gruelling tour.

“My performances for KXIP in IPL has given me a lot of confidence and put me in the right zone. The biggest advantage is that I can now prepare for the upcoming series without any pressure,” Shami added. “There is no burden on me. I am very comfortable at the moment. I had worked hard on my bowling and my fitness in the lockdown. I knew that IPL would take place sooner or later and I was preparing myself for it.”

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