Weight loss and much-improved body composition have played a huge part in keeping India’s in-form pacer Mohammad Shami injury-free over the past 12-18 months, says Kings XI Punjab physio Brett Harrop. Shami’s stellar performances in the overseas Test tours of South Africa, England, and Australia also helped him secure an unexpected World Cup berth, considering he was not a regular in the 50-over format as recent as six months ago. He has lost a good 5-6 kgs and worked that extra hard on his fitness, making him “leaner than ever before” in the words of India captain Virat Kohli.

“The fact that he is leaner and his body composition is better, that has played a huge part in him being injury-free,” Harrop, who has worked with national teams including Bangladesh, told PTI. “It (being injury-free) has a bit of a snowball effect. When you have fewer injuries, you play more and the more you play, it makes you more robust and you are less likely to get injured. “So that (better body composition) is definitely the reason why he is in a better spot than in the past,” said the 39-year-old Australian, who has played one first-class game.

It is a World Cup year and that has made jobs of the respective IPL teams’ physios a tad more challenging. All the World Cup-bound players have received a handout from their respective national team physios on how to go handle their fitness during the IPL. Shami and K L Rahul are the two India players in the Kings XI Punjab squad and Harrop said they are strictly following the instructions from national bodies.

“The main thing (this season) has been the interest from national bodies, which have been asking about their schedule and how their travel has been, their communication with the national team’s physio. “Other than that I have not noticed anything much. All the concerned players are aware that it is a World Cup year but at the same time are focused on their job in the IPL.”

Talking about the routine of Shami and Rahul in the IPL, Harrop said: “With someone like Shami, it has been about just recovery from match to match as he and also Rahul has been playing every game. “The guys who have not been playing have been lifting more weights, doing more intense running sessions. Guys like Shami and Rahul have been playing every game so it has been more about mobility and recovery and maintaining some strength at the same time.” The Indian team has become one of the fittest in the world under captain Kohli, who leads by example. Fitness culture has been created that percolates down to the junior levels and that has left Harrop impressed.
“The level of knowledge the players have about their bodies is really impressive. They understand the science. Don’t know where it originates from but when I arrived here for the IPL, I saw guys like Mayank Agarwal and Mandeep Singh. They were self-directed (when it came to fitness) and did not need a trainer to push them hard.

“They had specific exercises and there was a purpose to them and they were correct. It was very professional,” he added.