There are very few prolific performers like Shahbaz Nadeem in domestic cricket in India. He is one of the few bowlers to have picked up more than 50 wickets in consecutive seasons (2015-16, 2016-17).
In a different era, his First-Class record of 459 wickets would have earned him a lot more than the two Test matches he has. But competing against Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel for the left-arm spinner slot in the national side means it has not been easy for him to have a sustained run at the top level.
The 32-year-old has not let it affect him and is once again back to the grind doing what he does best, picking a bagful of wickets for Jharkhand.
In the second match against Delhi, he picked up five wickets in each innings and helped his side get a 15-run win and keep the hopes alive in the fight for a place in the knockouts.
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“The competition will always be there. The only thing I can do is keep performing and banging the door. That is the only thing that drives me,” said Nadeem ahead of his team’s final league match against Tamil Nadu starting on Thursday.
“There are lakhs of players in India, and to be in the top-20, you have to be mentally tough. To play for the national team and be there consistently, you have to do well in whatever matches you get. You can only worry about what is in your hands which is performing well in domestic cricket," he added.
Last year Nadeem played in the first Test match against England in Chennai, where he picked up four wickets before Axar replaced him for the remaining three Tests.
Fortunately, with India set to play most of the matches in the WTC cycle at home, Nadeem feels he has a chance to return to the national setup. “For a spinner, doing well in our domestic cricket is tougher than even when playing for India A because you have very good players of spin here. So If I do well here, I am hopeful, in a couple of series in the next WTC cycle, I will get my chance,” said a hopeful Nadeem.