@swaris16 3 minute read
No.4 in Wisden’s men’s ODI spell of 2023 is Mohammed Shami’s 4-22 in India’s win in a low-scoring clash against England in Lucknow. Sarah Waris looks back at the lion-hearted showing.
Wisden’s men’s ODI spell of 2023, No.4: Mohammed Shami – 4-22 (7)
India vs England
ODI World Cup, Match No.29
Ekana Stadium, Lucknow, October 29
That brief passage of play summed up Mohammad Shami’s genius. On a tricky wicket at the Ekana in Lucknow, bowling his first over after England were 30-2, he brought out his searing pace against Ben Stokes, who was struggling for runs in the World Cup. Having announced his decision to take back his ODI retirement for the event, Stokes would have been left questioning the move as he found himself at sea against a seamer who, till two games ago, was not even in India’s World Cup plans.
The first ball to Stokes was short of a length and moved away from the left-handed Stokes, who left it alone. On the next, Stokes, eager to get off the mark, danced down the track against a similar delivery, but was beaten as the ball moved away off the seam past his outside edge. Shami beat the bat again as Stokes attempted a cut to a good-length ball, the bowler sticking to the length after England’s quicks proved it to be successful in their half. The last ball of Shami’s over thudded into Stokes’ pad as he looked to play it on the leg side.
After a blazing start when England raced away to 30-0 in 24 balls, the crowd had gone silent with the visitors needing 200 more to inflict India with their first defeat of the World Cup. Jasprit Bumrah’s two-in-two brought India, and the decibel levels, back into the game and when Shami came on to bowl, he was urged on by 46,000 fans, the united aaah building up his flight perfectly.
Shami’s fifth ball to Stokes shaped away slightly, beating his defence while the sixth saw the frustrated batter mistime the good-length delivery to mid-off. He made contact again on the next delivery but was still unable to get off the mark after slapping it to cover. Shami was relentless as another good-length ball followed – it came in before seaming away slightly – beating Stokes on the outside edge. The ninth ball to Stokes was fuller and on the stumps: Stokes played his only calm shot of the day, towards mid-on.
Nine balls, all dots. Four misses, two unsuccessful charges, one aim.
The tenth ball Stokes faced was bowled round the wicket, and he made room in a desperate bid to get England’s first run in 15 deliveries. The three sticks were rattled after the ball shaped in off the seam, sending the entire stadium into a frenzy, and it was incredible to think that Shami had not played India’s first four World Cup games.
On his very next ball, Shami bowled Jonny Bairstow off the inside edge, leaving England reeling at 39-4. Dew covered the outfield and one mature innings was all that it needed from England. But Shami’s seam and wrist position, his stubbornness to stick to the good length along with the lateral movement he found gave the rivals no inroads.
Shami also dismissed Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, setting up the latter with a ball that angled in after sending down three widish ones. By the end, India galloped away to an easy win. Shami claimed figures of 7-2-22-4, enough to establish him as one of India’s greatest World Cup bowlers in only 13 innings, an honour he went onto single-handedly claim during the tournament.
The innings began with a typical Bumrah masterclass early on but ended in Shami’s name. Having been an equal contributor in India’s Test resurgence since 2018, Shami often found himself under Bumrah’s shadow over the years, reduced to a mere bowler operating in an attack led by a magician who debuted three years after him. In Lucknow and then through the World Cup, he emerged as a leader of his own, the belated but deserved Shamiiiii, Shamiiiiii chants paying homage to a hero of Indian cricket who has battled injuries and personal tragedies to reach where he has.
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