Shami: The ‘Hope’ crusher skipper Kohli can bank on

New Delhi: Mohammed Shami was hit for a beautiful drive on the off side by Shai Hope off the fourth ball of his fourth over during Windies chase of 269 on Thursday. Even though it was not a bad delivery, Hope had played a quality shot between point and covers which not only yielded him four runs, but also instilled confidence in the batsman.

Any other bowler would have tried to go for a short-pitched delivery or a yorker for the next ball, but not Shami.

He went back to his bowling mark, took a deep breath and then came out with perhaps one of the best deliveries bowled with the new ball in the ongoing World Cup.

The ball, which pitched on the fifth stump line on a good length, came back sharply towards Hope who missed it by a distance and saw the furniture getting disturbed. After getting knocked over, the West Indies batter stood at the crease for at least five to 10 seconds, failing to believe what had just happened.

It was a delivery which would have made even the best of the batters look like a mannequin which was just standing there and unable to do anything. The Shami delivery had a seam presentation which every bowler dreams of having; the landing of the ball on the edge of the seam was just perfect; it was a brilliant in-dipper which ended Hope’s hope of winning the match for the Windies.

The delivery was just a showcase of how much Shami has improved in the last two years. It was a proof of how much effort Shami was putting in each and every delivery he was bowling. It was not a case of co-incidence or momentary brilliance from the right-handed pacer who had to sit in the dugouts in the first three matches of the ongoing tournament.

Before the Afghanistan game where Shami became the only second Indian bowler to take a World Cup hat-trick after Chetan Sharma, the 29-year-old was just sitting in the dug-out and chit-chatting with the other players who could not find a place in the playing XI. From carrying water bottles during the drinks break to claiming a hat-trick in his first game of this World Cup, it was stuff dreams are made of.

While he was, on occasions, seen laughing and cracking jokes with his teammates, deep inside he was anxiously waiting to get the white Kookabura ball in his hand and role his magic on those 22 yards where he belongs.

And didn’t he do it in style? In the two matches that Shami has played so far, he has picked up eight wickets giving away just 56 runs. In absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shami has provided Virat Kohli with the early breakthroughs on which the Indian skipper depends heavily for winning the matches.

Shami has taken 25 wickets in the 15 World Cup matches he has played so far in his career. And going by his performance in the last two matches, Kohli in all likelihood will go with him even though Bhuvi is expected to be fit for selection against England on Sunday.