Mohammed Shami: Onus on fast bowlers to deliver in helpful conditions

Mohammed Shami holds the distinction of playing each one of India's six overseas Tests this year.

Mohammed Shami has eight wickets to his name this series.   -  Getty Images

When Ravi Shastri declared last week that India's current pace attack was its best ever, it did not seem like he was completely exaggerating. At Trent Bridge, India's quick bowlers were faster and sharper than their English counterparts, taking 19 of the 20 wickets.

The pace pack has claimed over 80 per cent of India's wickets this series, although that does not come as much of a surprise. As Virat Kohli's men prepare for the fourth Test, set to begin at the Ageas Bowl here on Thursday, they will not be remotely worried by the prospect of a green-top. In fact, they could welcome the idea. "When we look at such an Indian bowling unit, then even we feel happy and enjoy our job," Mohammed Shami said here on Tuesday.

"Our country has got such a bowling attack after a long time and if you compare us
(with England or any other opponent), we have better bowlers. The responsibility is on us fast bowlers to deliver in these conditions."

In Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav and Hardik Pandya, India has bowlers with diverse strengths. They were all capable of performing varied roles, Shami felt. "This is a team decision (who performs what role) because with the pace attack we have, we can bowl any delivery," he said.

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"You take Bumrah, Ishant, Umesh -- whoever the bowler may be, we can do that (attack and contain). So it is good for us that we have so many options. We can
evaluate which bowler is feeling confident and decide who should open the bowling."

Shami has eight wickets this series at an average of 41.5 but he has bowled better than his figures suggest. He has operated with pace and control, and has seemed a constant threat. Shami is now the leader of the pack, and has played all six of India's overseas Tests this year.

It was a relief to be focusing his energies on playing cricket, he stated, after a turbulent time off the field, when he has battled marital problems. "It has been difficult. The last eight months have been tough for me, with the family matter. It doesn't matter what happened or didn't, the period was very stressful for me. I was disturbed about it for some time. At some point, I had to decide that representing the country came first. I just got out of the environment where I was feeling disturbed. I felt that if the country needed me and I stopped, it would be a loss for my country. Yes, I was struggling with that issue, but being here matters more to me," he said.

In South Africa earlier this year, India's pace bowlers accounted for 50 wickets over the three Tests. Shami hoped such continued success would inspire future generations of players.

"When you look at Indian kids, mostly they take up the bat or bowl spin," he said. "But now the culture is different. We have such skilled pace bowlers that they are idols for young kids and junior cricketers. India’s best pace attack is in front of you and performing and helping the team win."