Shahbaz Nadeem has been on the fringes of a national call-up for quite some time now, especially with two consecutive prolific seasons in Ranji Trophy where he picked up more than 50 wickets (2015-16: 51 wickets; 2016-17: 56).
While it has been frustrating, Nadeem has learnt to see things more philosophically and is prepared to wait for his chances.
Ahead of the new season, Nadeem scalped his first five-wicket haul in the Duleep Trophy on the final day of play for India Red against India Blue.
It hasn't helped that R. Ashwin is at the top of his game and the left-arm spinner's slot is not vacant with Ravindra Jadeja still the first choice.
Biding his time
Speaking about his long wait, Nadeem said, “Only thing I have to do is continue performing and keep taking wickets. That is what I have to concentrate on.”
“To play for India, just performing alone isn’t enough. You have to see whether the place you are fighting for is empty. There are many players who have taken dozens of wickets in domestic cricket but haven’t got a chance to play for the country. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen with me (laughs).”
One silver lining for him, he says, is the fact that selectors are in touch with him and the assurance is really helping him remain focused.
“As a player, you know that they are looking at you. It keeps you motivated that you are being watched.”
In the IPL too, where he has represented Delhi Daredevils for six seasons, his chances have been limited.
Asked if it has hindered his chance of being fast-tracked, Nadeem concurred: “Yes, a good IPL can propel you into the national team. But in the IPL, I have just played 6-7 matches in the last couple of seasons.”
“However, the selectors have told me that they are looking at me for the longer version. So if I have to get a chance in Tests, I have to do well in all four-day matches, so that’s my focus.”
For now, he is content with being a regular part of the India A side. His next assignment will be the two four-day games against Australia A in Vizag, which will also see him miss the Duleep Trophy final.
“I got my first India A call-up in 2013 and I have been a regular for the last two years. But even now, whenever I play for India A, I am very excited because I know it is just a step away from the senior team. I have that pressure to perform so I don’t take it for granted.”
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