Shami is the world's best reverse swing bowler now, says Chetan Sharma
Mohammed Shami has got a very good idea about using the old ball, says Chetan Sharma (PTI)
Dubai - Sharma feels the Bengal fast bowler's pace and fitness have made a huge difference.
Jasprit Bumrah's injury may have broken Indian hearts, but Mohammed Shami quickly stepped up, breaking through the defence of the South African middle-order in a devastating fourth innings spell to help Virat Kohli's team clinch the first Test in emphatic style.
While Bumrah has undoubtedly been the superstar of the Indian pace bowling unit, Shami has been the quiet man who rarely roars in the first innings of a Test. But it's in the second innings that the 29-year-old fast bowler makes some deafening noise, relentlessly attacking the stumps.
On Sunday, Shami took his fourth second innings five-wicket haul of his career on a slow wicket.
And according to former India pacer Chetan Sharma, it's Shami's ability to bowl reverse swing that makes him such a dangerous bowler in the fourth innings. "I think he (Shami) is now the number one reverse swing bowler in the world. He has got a very good idea about using the old ball," Sharma, who played 23 Tests and 65 ODIs for India, told Khaleej Times in an exclusive interview on Monday.
"Only those fast bowlers who have got good control over reverse swing can bowl well in the fourth innings. The ball tends to lose its shine faster in the fourth innings and there are a lot of wear and tear on a fifth-day pitch," Sharma added.
And the second reason behind Shami's fourth innings success is his accuracy. "He is very accurate. Reverse swing is a matter of accuracy. If you get reverse swing, but if you don't get the line right, you will not get a wicket. So your accuracy has to be top class. This is where Shami is always on target," said Sharma, referring to the four South African players - Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock and Dane Piedt - who were bowled by Shami.
Finally, Sharma, whose record Shami equalled by becoming the second Indian bowler to take a World Cup hat trick few months back, says the Bengal fast bowler's pace and fitness have made a huge difference.
"It all depends on how quick you are in the air in the fourth innings. And to be quick in the air, you need to have a nice run up, action and rhythm. Ever since Shami came back from the injury, his fitness levels have gone up. And that has helped him in his run-up and he has taken so many wickets in international cricket," Sharma said.
"His fitness has allowed him to be quick in the air. If you want to take wickets through reverse swing, you have to beat the batsmen in the air. Also, when the bounce is low, Shami becomes even more dangerous because he is so accurate, he keeps attacking the wicket."
Sharma then credited the BCCI for the success of the current Indian pace bowlers.
"Now they have a great rotation policy. Someone like Ishant (Sharma) only plays Test cricket. Now the team is also introducing new bowlers in T20s. But in our time, they didn't have such policy. There was Kapil Dev, me and Manoj Prabhakar.
"But we also had Raju Kulkarni and Subroto Banerjee who never got a proper chance to establish themselves. But now everybody has got an opportunity to show the skills in different formats of the game" Sharma said.
"There is no doubt the BCCI has been very smart now when it comes to handling the fast bowlers. They are doing a very good job."