Category: ipl

ICC World Cup 2019 | Afghanistan – No Mere Pus…

One of the most endearing images of the 2015 World Cup was Afghanistan’s Shapoor Zadran running arms aloft after hitting the winning run against Scotland in Dunedin. It was a nerve-jangling first-ever World Cup win for the war-torn nation, whose passion for the game has now powered them to Test-match status.

Just last year they became the 10th Test-playing nation in the world and a couple of months back posted their first-ever win in the longest format with a win over Ireland in their adopted home ground in Dehradun.

(AFP)

Cricket’s tryst with Afghanistan began in refugee camps back home with four of their pillars — Mohammad Nabi, Dawlat Zadran, Asghar Stanikzai (Afghan) and Shapoor Zadran coming through that system. Progression began through the ranks of ICC World Cricket Leagues and then through the ICC Qualifying Tournament for World Cup.

The Scotland win in 2015 World Cup gave a big boost to sport back home. The emergence of T20 cricket and support from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has helped them make rapid strides.

Former India batsman Lalchand Rajput took over as coach and Greater Noida ground in Delhi’s NCR region was given to aid the Afghans. After the last World Cup, the team had impressive series wins Zimbabwe, UAE and Ireland and drew an ODI series against West Indies 1-1 before being handed a Test status.

In the meantime, the T20 revolution introduced a one-in-a-lifetime talent in Rashid Khan. Still only 20 years of age, Rashid is a T20 veteran with appearances in Indian Premier League, Big Bash League and Caribbean Premier League.

“2017 was the start and everything changed from there. IPL is a format where if you perform, you will be renowned throughout the world. There are only top quality players and teams here and doing well here gives lot of confidence,” Rashid told CricketNext recently.

(AP)

His ODI stats are startling: 57 games, 123 wickets and an average of 15. Making him one of the most dangerous ODI cricketers who will be making his World Cup debut at the 2019 edition.

“We’ll try to play good cricket in the World Cup — the kind of cricket we played in the Asia Cup. We want to replicate that, we pushed all the top teams in Asia Cup and we want to do the same. We’ll try to play good and positive cricket. We have to give our 100 per cent and try to perform under-pressure. If we can do these two things, we’ll be very happy,” Rashid said.

Shaky Build-up

The road to the World Cup has not been a smooth one. One of the favourites heading into the 2018 World Cup Qualifying event which also had the likes of West Indies and Ireland, Afghanistan lost almost all of their league games — even to the likes of Hong Kong.

The turn-around began from the Super Six stage as Afghanistan sensationally turned their form and fortunes around to emerge victorious from the tournament, even trouncing the Chris Gayle-powered West Indies in the final.

Mohammed Shahzad was one batsman who emerged from the tournament and carried on that form to the 2018 Asia Cup. The portly opener is a pocket-dynamite with strike-rate of 88 and five international ODI hundreds to his name.

(AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

He’ll have young Hazratullah Zazai for company. The powerfully built Zazai had built quite the reputation in the last one year, hitting six sixes in an over in the Afghanistan Premier League and blasting 162 in a T20 game against Ireland earlier this year.

Captaincy conundrum

Just months before the World Cup kicks off, Afghanistan selection committee decided that they needed a new leader in charge to replace Asghar Afghan. The selectors appointed three different captains for the different formats with all-rounder Gulabdin Naib given charge of the ODIs.

Senior players Nabi and Rashid tweeted in support of Afghan and criticized the move of the selectors.

“The fact is that Afghanistan is not going to win the World Cup with either (Naib or Aghan) of the captains. We are looking to make a transition and planning for the next World Cup which will be four years down the line. We don’t get as many games against quality opposition like we will get in the World Cup, so the new captain’s planning will begin here.

The matter has been handled very professionally. Gulbadin has been playing for the last 17 years and he is great friends with Nabi and Rashid. The seniors will be supporting the new captain,” Afghanistan chief selector Dawlat Khan Ahmadzai told CricketNext recently.

The likes of Rashid, Nabi, Shahzad, Afghan and Rahmat Shah form a powerful core for the Afghans but as their chief selector said they will be hard-pushed to make the final four. A few surprises though will not be beyond their reached especially against the likes of West Indies, who they defeated in the qualifying tournament, and Sri Lanka, who are struggling in the ODIs to recreate the golden days of the late ’90s and early 2000.

Coach Phil Simmons’ side will open their campaign against defending champions Australia on June 1 in Bristol and it would not be beyond the Afghans to give Australia a run for their money. Expect some fireworks from their fledgling Test nation.

Fixtures:

June 1 v Australia (Bristol)

June 4 v Sri Lanka (Cardiff)

June 8 v New Zealand (Taunton)

June 15 v South Africa (Cardiff)

June 18 v England (Manchester)

June 22 v India (Southampton)

June 24 v Bangladesh (Southampton)

June 29 v Pakistan (Leeds)

July 4 v West Indies (Leeds)​

ICC World Cup 2019 | Fitting Warner & Smith in…

Pencilling in David Warner and Steve Smith into the top-order could be a headache, but there is no doubt the pair would only make the playing XI richer as they strive to defend their World Cup crown in England and Wales next month, feels former batsman Simon Katich.

Former Australia skipper Smith and his deputy Warner served the bans handed to them in the wake of last year’s Cape Town ball tampering affair, and are now back in the thick of things for Australia.

While Warner has been in the form of his life, finishing the Indian Premier League as the highest scorer for Sunrisers Hyderabad, Smith stamped his class in the warm-up games against New Zealand in Australia.

“They are both quality players and their records speak for themselves. The hard part is the Australian team has a problem of plenty particularly in the top four.

"Both of them are top four players. There is (Usman) Khawaja, (Aaron) Finch, Shaun Marsh, and the two and these guys will try to fit into four slots. Then there is Maxwell, Stoinis. It’s going to be a tough selection call,” Katich told IANS.

For the defending champions, the primary selection question centres on how to fit in Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja and Warner into the top three.

There have been talks of the duo receiving hostile treatment from the fans in England during the World Cup besides being greeted with greater scrutiny after a turbulent 12 months.

After the World Cup, Australia will take on England in the Ashes.

“They will welcome back the experience of Smith and Warner,” said Katich when asked about the off-field baggage that comes along with the pair.

“The balance with the batting line-up is what they need to get right,” the 43-year old reiterated.

Katich, who worked closely with India’s World Cup-bound wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik during his time as assistant coach of the Kolkata Knight Riders, also threw his weight behind the 33-year old whose selection raised a few eyebrows.

“There is a lot of talk around that No.4 spot, and he is a guy who likes to spend time in the middle. Once he is set, he is very hard to bowl to at the back end. He has got all the tricks and he does have the timing and power to clear the rope,” said Katich who has played 56 Tests and 45 ODis for Australia.

“It’s hard to judge a player based on T20 cricket with ODI cricket,” he concluded.

Australia take on Afghanistan in their World Cup opener on June 1 while India open their account against South Africa on June 5. The showpiece event starts on May 30.

ICC World Cup 2019 | Was Keen to Play World Cu…

Former South Africa captain AB de Villiers revealed that he wanted to play the 2019 World Cup, but “felt cornered” by expectation and criticism. De Villiers said his desire to spend more time with his family forced him to retire from international cricket.

De Villiers, who is still playing various T20 leagues around the world, announced his retirement from international cricket in May 2018 leaving the entire cricket fraternity in shock.

“I was keen to play in the World Cup, but I left, I retired. So it was a very sensitive situation. For the last three years of my career, I was labelled as a guy who is picking and choosing when I was playing and when not. So I got quite a lot of criticism from back home, which also played a role in me retiring. And it was difficult for me to then go ‘hey, but I’ll still play the World Cup’. It’s that picking and choosing thing again, and it’s quite arrogant to do something like that. But as they say, you can’t have your bread buttered on both sides,” said de Villiers while featuring in an episode for Youtube channel Breakfast with Champions.

“I felt cornered. It’s always been about the team, it’s never been about myself. But I found myself in a position where I had to make a decision where it’s going to look like I’m just thinking about myself.

"There’s a lot of reasons I had to move on. Family’s definitely a big part of it. And the longevity of my career, I played for 15 years and I was just tired of the whole international scene. It’s quite busy. Very stressful. And the mental game, the doubts you have as a person and as a player, it wears you down. And being captain of the Proteas for a long time also took its toll. And then there are a few deeper issues that might have to be discussed when I’m 50, one day.

"There’s a part of me that will always miss it. Everything that goes with it. I wish I could have pushed on longer, but it was time. I had a great run. I had so much fun, I really did, and more dreams came true than I could ever imagine. And there was lots of heartbreaks as well along the way, and that’s the great ride that we all go through.”

The 35-year-old also spoke about how he talked his childhood friend and current South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis out from signing a Kolpak stint in county cricket.

The two were childhood rivals before they joined Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool (public high school for boys situated in the city of Pretoria, Gauteng) where they became teammates. While de Villiers made his international debut in December 2004, du Plessis had to wait till 2011 to make his first international appearance.

“There was a moment when he was thinking of signing for one of the English counties. He did call me up, and said what do I think about it? I said listen, not a long time from now there will be a few retirements, a few guys will step down, and you’re pretty close. And the coaches and the team are talking about you, so just hang in a little bit longer. And finally the breakthrough came. I’m not taking credit for that, but we did have that conversation. And I’m very happy I was straight up with him,” said de Villiers.

“He waited a bit longer. It happened quite quickly for me. A couple of doors opened up, and I put my hand up at the right time. The path he walked was a different one, but it set him up perfectly for international cricket. I think he was mentally in a great space when he finally made his debut.”

De Villiers also joked about how he would come out of retirement for the 2023 World Cup if MS Dhoni is still around.

“How old will I be (in 2023)? 39! I’ll come back if MS (Dhoni) is still around. If I’m still good enough, who knows eh?”

ICC World Cup 2019 | Playing Risk-Free Cricket…

While most of the teams are looking to smash as many sixes and fours as possible in the 50-over format, India’s assistant coach Sanjay Bangar has made it clear that his team isn’t “obsessed” with boundaries and are more focused on strike rotation and playing risk-free cricket.

“We’ve our own internal parameters as to how to approach ODIs. If we come close to those parameters, we should be fine,” Bangar told Bangalore Mirror.

“What makes the Indian team unique is that it’s consistently playing risk-free cricket. And that’s because we emphasise on the ones and the twos. As a batting group, we are not obsessed over the number of boundaries we’ve hit. But we discuss strike-rotation a great deal. Which is why we’re able to eschew risks.”

All the players were involved in the recently concluded IPL and Bangar wants his batsmen to come out of that T20 mode.

“In T20, you’re all the time expecting what the bowler will bowl. You end up planning beforehand looking at field placements… The go-to balls for most bowlers are analysed in detail. Batsmen start expecting such deliveries,” said Bangar, who wants his team to take forward the batting rhythm, fitness and match temperament they gained from IPL.

“In 50 overs where you have more time and are getting 300 deliveries instead of 120, you need to be mindful of not premeditating shots for the major part of the innings.”

Despite England and Pakistan constantly raking up totals above 350 in the ongoing ODI series in English conditions, Bangar said it’s important to not rely too much on numbers as things can change pretty quickly in the World Cup.

“Don’t go by stats. Data serve as mere tool. By all means analyse stats, but don’t make your conclusions based on them. It’s how to react to a situation on a particular day that matters…everything counts from making smart decisions to adapting to situations that are unforeseen. You can’t go with a rigid mindset. Be open. Absorb pressure. Respond to situations, overcome challenges and get the job done. As a team, we’re tilted in that direction instead of being over-reliant on numbers.”

Bangar has been with the team as batting coach since 2014 and said it’s important to earn the players’ trust, citing an example about how skipper Virat Kohli turned around a horrible Test tour of England in 2014 to a fantastic one in 2018.

“What worked for Virat was he played close to the body. He showed great discipline outside off stump in tough English conditions,” he explained.

“He was playing close to his front pad and very late. That required individual discipline. The thing Virat did differently was he stood outside the crease to reduce the extent of swing. Some of our batsmen tried to use his gameplan but erred in reaching out towards the ball.

"Whether you stand outside the crease or inside, the key to batting is playing the ball late and close to the body. It could also have been a fallout of going to Test matches straight from T20Is where you’re always expected to get bat on ball. In the longer format, with challenging conditions and a slip cordon around, batsmen have to react to the ball instead of pre-determining their shots.”

Bangar also shed light on how he helped KL Rahul recover from a horrid Test series in Australia in 2018-19.

“After his debut, he scored prolifically in each part of the world before the drought of runs hit him. We had to assess whether anything in his game had changed drastically. And if anything had indeed changed, the key was to get the player back to the methods he’d been following when he was successful,” he said.

“So we showed KL a lot of videos of the times he had been batting beautifully. He was getting across in his initial movement, which had to be changed a bit. Also, when a player goes through a bad patch, self-doubts tend to creep in. Advice comes in from all quarters. For KL, the challenge was to remain confident of his own methods.”

ICC World Cup 2019 | Enjoy Yourself, No Need t…

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said his team wouldn’t be looking to do ‘Superman’ things in the World Cup 2019, and instead insisted on the need to do the ‘normal’ consistently.

South Africa have a poor record in World Cup knockout matches over the years, often crumbling under pressure. Du Plessis put that down to trying too hard and adding pressure on themselves.

“In previous World Cups, we wanted to do Superman things,” du Plessis said on Saturday (May 18) ahead of the team’s departure to England.

“We thought we had to be more special, we had to do something more than we usually do, and we did not do what was good enough. We haven’t always got that right in the past, to play our best cricket at the World Cup, because we put so much pressure on ourselves. We want to just focus on enjoying our cricket.

"We believed you had to be really special to win the World Cup, that you had to do something more than you usually do, which is not true. Whatever we’ve been doing consistently, the way we’ve played while beating teams that will work. We have to do the basics as well as possible, teams don’t win the World Cup by someone scoring a century off 50 balls or taking 7 for 20.”

Du Plessis called on each player to find his own strength and play without fear of failure.

“I’ve been there and I know the pressures, I understand how to deal with them. There’s a reason why we want the guys to play freely – because we don’t want them to have a fear of failure, which is what the World Cup is for some of them. Our success in England over the next couple of months depends on how well we release that aspect of our play – we need that for the team to be at our best. Each player needs to find out his own strengths.

"The players relate better to fellow players and I’m on the same level as the coach when it comes to the importance of the mental side. I’m a big believer in positive visualisation, how to remain calm, and I feel it has had value for my own game. So I can relate that to the players, how important it is to be present in the moment; for instance when there’s been a dropped catch, there’s nothing you can do about it and it’s about how you change your mindset to make sure you are still strong mentally.”

One of the talking points in the South African squad for this World Cup is the presence of Hashim Amla. The opener has made only one century since the start of 2018, averaging 35.26 from 16 ODIs. It’s a considerable fall from his overall career average of 49.74.

Du Plessis threw his weight behind the senior batsman, saying Amla’s experience will be key in the World Cup.

“As an experienced player, he is important in our squad and that was one of the key reasons he was picked,” du Plessis said.

“You cannot substitute experience. When I speak about the experience, I speak about experience having played in tournaments like the World Cup before. He understands what it means to play in a big tournament.

"Whether that means runs or not, no one can give us that guarantee. But it’s just the calm composure Hashim has. Even if he doesn’t play a game, just the knowledge and experience that he can share with someone like an Aiden Markram is something you can only get from a guy like Hashim. He can talk him through those first 10 overs, he has a lot of experience playing county cricket, so his experience is vital to the group.

"In terms of team selection, that’s a call we will make when we get to that first game. We have two warm-up games. Generally, we want to pick on form. If we believe Hash is the guy with the best form for the first game then he will be picked. But if we feel there are other guys that are more in form… form does play a huge role in a long competition like this – so hopefully Hash can go into those warm-ups, and bang, bang two centuries in a row and then we can smile from there.”

South Africa feature in the tournament opener against England at The Oval on May 30.

ICC World Cup 2019 | Smith & Warner Ready to F…

Australia coach Justin Langer believes no amount of crowd abuse Steve Smith and David Warner may receive while on tour in England can compare to what they’ve already experienced while serving year-long bans for ball-tampering.

The star batsmen are back in the Australia fold ahead of a lengthy tour of England which includes both the World Cup and Ashes series.

Warner was widely seen as the instigator in the “sandpapergate” scandal during a Test against South Africa in Cape Town that saw novice opener Cameron Bancroft – banned for nine months – deliberately trying to alter the condition of the ball in the field while then captain Smith turned a blind eye.

But having witnessed the angry reaction in Australia to Smith and Warner’s conduct, Langer said it would be hard to imagine any English taunts could be worse.

“Well, we can’t control the crowd. What I do know? It may heat up, but it won’t be any hotter than it was 12 months ago,” said Langer at an Australia training session on Saturday.

“I’ve never seen anything like it so the boys are very well prepared,” added the former Australia opener, who took over as coach after predecessor Darren Lehmann resigned in the aftermath of the scandal.

“They’ve paid a heavy price and we’re expecting always to come here and to face the fire and we’re ready for that.”

Smith’s return to Australia duty this month, albeit in three unofficial World Cup warm-up matches at home to a New Zealand XI, included unbeaten innings of 89 and 91.

By contrast, Warner could only manage a top score of 39 but Langer was encouraged by what he’d seen from both batsmen.

“I watched Steve Smith batting against New Zealand, he’s literally a master of the game, so it’s nice to have him back,” he said.

“He’s just shadow batting the whole time…He loves batting, he’s shadow batting on the sand, he’s shadow batting in the shower –- I’m not joking!”

As for Warner, Langer added: “Dave’s got that look on his eye, he’s really hungry, he’s a great player as we all know, he’s so dynamic, he brings so much energy, and that’s what we ask from our players.

"They’ve had 12 months to have a good think about a mistake they and the team made. I’m sure they’ll be better people for that.”

Australia may be the reigning World Cup champions but an England side top of the One-Day Internationals rankings will start the tournament as favourites.

Last year saw England compile an ODI world record total of 481 for 6 against Australia at Trent Bridge and the familiar foes will meet again for the first time this season in a World Cup warm-up at Southampton on May 25.

England took an unbeatable 3-0 lead in a home ODI series against Pakistan with a three-wicket win at Trent Bridge on Friday and Langer said: “They’re playing brilliant cricket, aren’t they?

"There’s always good rivalry between us and it’s going to be nice for us to see how we’re at against the best team in the world.”

ICC World Cup 2019 | Stokes Can’t Wait for Wor…

Ben Stokes is desperate to get England’s World Cup campaign under way after guiding the team to a series-clinching win over Pakistan.

Stokes held his nerve following a top-order collapse with an innings of 71 not out as England eventually chased down a target of 341 in the last over of Friday’s fourth one-day international at Trent Bridge.

Victory gave England an unassailable 3-0 series lead ahead of Sunday’s finale at Headingley.

But for multi-format players such as Stokes this may be the least of England’s achievements in a home season featuring both the World Cup and an Ashes series.

“We were talking about this, I think it might have been last night, how lucky we are as players to be involved in a home World Cup and home Ashes in the same summer, it’s very exciting to think about,” said the all-rounder. “I just want it to start.

"We wanted to make sure our focus was on this series and not be thinking about the World Cup and we’ve done a great job so far.

"We’d love to take the (Pakistan) series 4-0 but, whatever happens, it is a clean slate after Headingley and we need to concentrate on the World Cup.”

Stokes’ innings was a timely boost for England, bidding to win the World Cup for the first time, as it showed they could get out of a tight spot when their ‘Plan A’ of blistering run-scoring by their specialist batsmen was not enough to win a game.

“It’s always nice to get some time out in the middle and it’s good to take some positives forward with the World Cup just around the corner,” said Stokes.

“As everyone knows, we generally seem to have a stinker somewhere in a series,” the Durham star added.

“This could have been that game for us but the confidence we’ll take from losing four quick wickets then still finishing off the game will stand us in great stead.

"The most confidence I’ll take from that was being there at the end. The one thing I wanted to do and not throw it away when we got to that winning position.”

A lively pace bowler when fully fit, Stokes has sent down a mere 13 overs during the Pakistan series ahead of Sunday’s match in Leeds.

Stokes saw his bowling in this year’s Indian Premier League restricted by a hamstring injury and he is currently managing an elbow problem.

Meanwhile with the likes of Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, Liam Plunkett, David Willey and Tom Curran all keen to prove their worth ahead of the World Cup, England do have plenty of other pace-bowling options.

Stokes insisted his recent elbow trouble was simply the result of an unusually busy stint in the field during the second ODI in Southampton.

“It’s nothing, just from too much throwing. I’ve had it before,” he said.

“It’s a bit better, the long boundary at Southampton didn’t do me any favours. I doubled the normal throwing workload that I’d do in a game. So I’m just resting it.”

CPL 2019: Barbados Tridents Gets New Owners Af…

Industrialist Vijay Mallya, who is battling against extradition from the United Kingdom to India, was finally replaced as the owner of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) franchise Barbados Tridents on Saturday. The USA-based CMG Companies (CMG) led a team of local and international investors who took over the beleaguered franchise.

This was Mallya’s final connection to the world of sports after his exit from the Indian Premier League franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore and Formula One team Force India due to his financial woes.

The arrival of the new owners will be good news for the Tridents, whose players have still not been compensated for playing in the 2018 season after receiving their 2017 salaries a year later.

The Barbados-based franchise also announced the signing of West Indies Test and ODI captain Jason Holder as their marquee player for the 2019 season of the CPL.

CMG, through its affiliates, primarily owns and operates franchise restaurants, hotels, and real estate across America and is one of the largest owners of a major fast-food franchise. CMG are no stranger to sports, with sponsorship deals with NBA teams including the Dallas Mavericks and past ownership of CPL’s Jamaica Tallawahs.

“Selling our ownership rights of the winning Jamaica Tallawahs held from 2014-2016 was the right move for us as a business, but we missed being involved in the Region and in CPL. When the chance to purchase the Tridents came along we were delighted, especially with the opportunity to bring good strong local partners onboard,” Manish Patel, Principal of CMG, said.

“We can’t wait to get started at enhancing the profile of this team on and off the field and to bringing a comprehensive sports entertainment package to Barbados. We will work very hard to make Barbadians proud of their team,” he added.

“The issues that the Tridents have faced in recent months have been well documented and are being fully addressed as a priority. We have been working tirelessly to find a solution and we believe that this international-local investor collaboration is the ideal solution,” CPL COO Pete Russell said in a statement.

“This is a group of passionate cricket fans and astute business minds who have experience of successfully running a CPL franchise. The Tridents are in safe hands and the issues the franchise has faced are a thing of the past,” Russell added.

The 2019 CPL will run from September 4 to October 12.​

ICC World Cup 2019 | India a Big Threat as The…

Former England captain Nasser Hussain expects India to be in contention for the title at the World Cup beginning May 30 because they have all bases covered, coupled with the presence of the best batsman in the game Virat Kohli. India, who won their second title in 2011 on home soil, will be a threat according to Hussain.

“They have every base covered,’ Hussain was quoted as saying by metro.co.uk.

“They have the best batsman in world cricket right now in Virat Kohli. He’s backed up by various other batsmen, in particular, Rohit Sharma. They have good finishers in MS Dhoni and their bowling is very strong, with Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. They’re no longer a one-dimensional team – they have good seamers and good spin options.”

“They use the powerplay well with Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. Those two go hard and go well and set it up for Kohli. They chase as well as any team in the world and they travel well in white-ball cricket.”

Hussain, who made 88 ODI appearances also had high praise for India’s faster bowlers and believes they can be a handful.

“In England, you need a varied bowling attack. You need your spin options but India’s real advance over the last two years has been in their seam bowling department.”

“(Jasprit) Bumrah is a fabulous bowler who bowls at the start and at the death. (Bhuvneshwar) Kumar will be a real handful and their spinners are very good. I’d be very wary of India at this World Cup.”

Hosts England, currently ranked No. 1 in the world in ODIs, open their campaign against South Africa in London on May 30, while India play the Proteas in their first game on June 5 in Southampton.

ICC World Cup 2019 | India’s Bowling Attack Pe…

Going into the ICC World Cup 2019, India’s batting line-up has been a source of many discussions – especially the all-important No. 4 position. By contrast, the bowling attack looks well sorted with the only real question being who sits out.

Jasprit Bumrah is a champion death bowler and captain Virat Kohli has a genuine fast bowler who can swing the ball at top speed in Mohammed Shami, as well as swing maestro Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Shami, who has reinvented himself as white-ball bowler in recent times, believes the strength of India’s bowling attack is that they are able to combine both pace and skill.

“In the last 20 or 30 years, if you look back at the history of Indian cricket, it has always been dominated by the batsmen. You cannot really blame the bowlers because the wickets that were prepared in India were also not helpful towards the bowlers. Things have started improving in the last five to seven years and to be honest it has been a process and not something that has happened overnight. We have been bowling as a unit and that helps,” Shami told IANS.

“The best part is that along with variety, we have an attack that can bowl fast. Having skills and pace together is the USP of this side as that somewhere increases the confidence of the attack. To be honest, it is like a dream that has come true and I feel very proud that today people talk about our bowling unit as one of the best – a thing that wasn’t heard much, but is now called our strength,” he added.

But fast bowling is not an art that comes naturally to a human body and the chances of injuries are high. That is where the physio and medical team comes in and ensures that a fast bowler is not overworked.

Shami said that he kept in constant touch with the Indian team physio Patrick Farhart and discussed how his body was responding to the rigours of playing in the T20 league.

“I don’t believe in making too many changes and neither do I underwork or overwork my body. Had been constantly in touch with the physio and whatever I feel, I always tell the physio honestly so that the team doesn’t suffer. No team should suffer due to an individual. So, I believe it is important that you keep a transparent relation with the doctor and physio in the team so that they know how exactly the body is working. This understanding in the Indian team is really good and that helps,” he said.

While Shami will be a key part of the Indian attack in the upcoming World Cup, there was a time in the last two years when it was felt that the pacer from Bengal was a red-ball specialist.

But Shami says that he was waiting for his opportunity and knew that when given the chance, he would have to grab it with both hands.

“I hadn’t been playing white-ball cricket for a while but in the series against Australia, I gained in confidence and just looked to keep that going even in the IPL. Also, playing consistently for KXIP helped me. Getting to play day-in day-out helps you perform and get the right momentum.

"I was just waiting for an opportunity as I had a good record in white-ball cricket. Waited for almost two years and I had it in mind that when I did get the chance, I will show what I could do. Always knew that I can adapt to the shorter format and bowl the line and length required to succeed.”