Mohammed Shami had no second thoughts about bowling a yorker for a hat-trick delivery after Mahendra Singh Dhoni advised the same during India’s thrilling World Cup encounter against Afghanistan in Southampton. Shami is the second Indian bowler to take a hat-trick in World Cup after Chetan Sharma’s feat against New Zealand in the 1987 edition. This is the 10th hat-trick in history of 50-over World Cup.
“The plan was simple. To bowl a yorker and even Mahi bhai suggested that. He said, ‘Don’t change anything now as you have a great chance of getting a hat-trick. It’s a rare opportunity and you need to do the same thing. So I did what exactly I was told,” Shami told reporters after returning with figures of 4 for 40.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s left-hamstring stiffness brought Shami into the picture and the Bengal pacer accepts that it was a stroke of luck that he was in the playing XI.
“Getting a chance in the playing XI is a bit of luck. I was ready that whenever I get a chance, I will have to utilise it. As far as hat-trick is concerned, it is a rarity at least in the World Cup. I am happy,” he said.
Shami said in the final over, there was no time to think and the aim was to execute the plan. “There was no time to think. You have to back your own skills as you don’t have much option otherwise. If you try more variations, chances of going for runs is more. My thought was to execute my plan rather than trying to read batsman’s mind,” he said.
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The Indian bowlers had realised that short ball was a weapon that could be used effectively and both pacers — Shami and Jasprit Bumrah — did just that against Afghan batsmen.
“We didn’t bowl fuller length deliveries as it was coming onto the bat well. We knew they would be circumspect against short balls. Our gameplan was simple, bowl bouncers from varying lengths,” he added.
All-rounder Mohammed Nabi had threatened to take the game away with his half-century and Shami said it was important that they don’t let the shoulders drop.
“There was a point when Nabi’s flow was irritating but it’s better if you don’t show your concern or irritation which the batsman would have gauged,” he said.
“We shouldn’t show our weakness. From the exterior, we should always show aggression. We knew that if Nabi was out, then match belongs us. He was the only batsman who could have built their innings.”
For someone, who loved his biryani, Shami’s new mantra has been fitness which helped him bowl some great spells for India in Test matches last year.
“This is a long journey, may be, around two years. Post injury, I had put on weight and I could feel that. After one spell, I would feel tired and there would be tightness. I had a surgery too. At that point in time, I could sense that if I had to continue playing cricket, I better do something extra,” Shami recalled.
Team India trainer Shankar Basu in a recent interview to PTI spoke about how fitness has become Shami’s lifestyle. Even the player at times fails to believe this change.
“People laugh that I follow a diet. Actually, I don’t follow any strict diet but if doctor advises on certain dietary restrictions, I try maintaining that. It is for my benefit that I don’t eat sweets or wheat products (bread). It helps me only,” he said.