India pacer Mohammed Shami says only he deserves all the credit for his remarkable turnaround as it was “me and only me” who suffered for 18 months. “Credit? Who else but me. I give full credit to myself,” said Shami after India’s 125-run victory over West Indies in the World Cup here Thursday, the scribes in the mixed zone taken in by his directness. Shami has been to hell and back in the last one and a half years, fighting accusations of domestic violence. As a result, he was dropped from the BCCI’s central contract list pending inquiry and also sat out a Test match on fitness ground. But he is now back to his best, asking probing questions to the best in the business with his pace and swing.
“… Because I had to endure all that I was made to go through. What I went through in the past 18 months, it’s me and only me who had to suffer. So credit goes to me,” Shami said without getting into the details about the nightmare that he had endured. “Yes, I thank the Almighty for giving me the strength to fight everything from family issues to fitness. I am now only focussed on doing well for my country,” said the pacer, who has now taken eight wickets in two games, including a hat-trick. After two mindblowing performances against Afghanistan and West Indies, Shami said that working on his fitness has been the turning point. He has shed those extra kilos, and more importantly, it has put him in good head space.
“It wasn’t only about failing YoYo test. There are times when your rhythm goes for a toss. I failed that’s a separate thing but then I have worked hard and improved my fitness. I feel I am in a good zone now as I have lost weight, got a rhythm and everything is working for me. “I now try to maintain my diet, training regime consistently. Because I am feeling stronger, not getting tired easily, my speed has also increased. And as far as skill is concerned, I always knew I can perform well on any track,” he said, the confidence could easily be mistaken as arrogance.
While many thought that it would be the fit Bhuvneshwar Kumar, with his ability to take the ball away from left-handers, but it was Shami who bounced out ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle. “Since we played IPL together, I have a bit of an idea about him when you play together for some time. I knew that if I don’t allow him to chance his arms, he will get out in desperation trying to hit me,” he said, the explanation sounding much simpler than his on-field execution.
How did he feel when he wasn’t getting a chance in the first four games? “Look, 15 people have come to represent the country. You must have had something special that you are in that 15, isn’t it? It’s about remaining patient and positive. And, yes, have a clever mind.