Kolkata: The lack of a number on the front of his jersey — signifying the number of players who have played for India before him — was a clear indication that the decision to hand Mohammed Shami a debut in the first Test against West Indies was taken at the eleventh hour.
More than the four wickets he took, it was the way in which he swung the new ball and reversed the old that impressed two of India’s legends — Kapil Dev and Sourav Ganguly.
Kapil said: “It is always the best players who represent the country. He has been working very hard and that shows.”
Sourav echoed Kapil’s sentiments. “He is good,” the ‘Prince of Kolkata’ said.
Everybody is no doubt happy with Shami’s showing, but it hasn’t been all easy, according to his childhood coach Badruddin Siddique.
From the lows of not being picked in the Indian squad for the Champions Trophy to being handed a Test debut ahead of Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma, Siddique has seen it all.
“I have always believed that Shami is a natural talent. I have hardly had to teach him anything and even this time, when we spoke, I told him that he needs to be himself and go out and enjoy his game. I told him that taking pressure isn’t something that he is good at. And the way he bowled today, it showed that he had no burden on him,” he told Mail Today.
Asked about the phase in Shami’s career when the Kolkata Knight Riders decided not to select him in the XI this year, Siddique said: “He had a dream debut and had done fairly well in the opportunities that he got for India, but KKR decided to not play him consistently and that cost him a place in the Champions Trophy squad. Even I was shocked by Gautam Gambhir’s selection policy, but I wanted to cheer up Shami. As a result, I always diverted his attention and told him that if the team wasn’t picking him, it was their loss."