Indian seamer Mohammed Shami has said that his love for cricket helped him fight his off the field battle that hurt his cricketing career back few months ago as he made a scintillating comeback in the ongoing first Test Match against England at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground in Birmingham.
On the first day, Shami took 2 for 64 while Ravichandran Ashwin made a comeback with a 4-fer 60 to help India restrict England to 285 for 9.
28-year-old Shami, who was accused of extra-marital affair and domestic violence by his wife Hasin Jahan just before the beginning of Indian Premier League 2018. His cricketing career was later hampered by injuries following a car accident and later missed the Test match against Afghanistan after failing the Yo-Yo fitness test.
“(The tour of) South Africa was a long time ago and there have been some off-field issues after that. I had to fight a lot in between but my effort was that I have to keep doing what I love most and what is most important to me (cricket),” Shami said.
“I wanted to just keep doing my job and then see what happens to the rest of the stuff in my life. Whatever difficulties I face, first I wanted to play cricket and keep doing it. The result is in front of us.”
Shami, who was India’s leading wicket-taker with 15 strikes in the 2-1 loss to South Africa, said he was satisfied how the first day went for his team.
“As a bowling unit and as an individual I am very happy today. This is the thing I have worked hard for and we have been able to bring it forward successfully,” he said.
“There are ups and downs in life and in your family. But when playing for your country there is a responsibility and when you do that job properly, I think that’s the best thing. So I am very happy with today.”
Joe Root struck his 41st Test half-ton and build a 105-run partnership with Jonny Bairstow. But it was the 63rd over of the first innings when Virat Kohli’s brilliant direct hit ran out Root, which eventually changed the course of the day as England faced a mini collapse by losing three wickets for eight runs in the next 25 deliveries.
“In the morning the wicket was a little slower and there was hard work for sure. On such wickets we have to maintain good line and length all day. It was a little tough initially because it was slow and a little damp. We didn’t do anything extra during those overs,” Shami said.
“Initially when you bowl on such wickets here you get an idea how it will behave and what you need to keep doing. So there weren’t many changes in our approach during the day but we tried to control line and length through the day, and tried not to give any width,” he added.
The Delhi Daredevils seamer also lauded Ashwin for bagging his best figures in Test cricket across Australia, South Africa and England.
He bowled very well today. Usually in English conditions, you see fast bowlers doing well. For a spinner to come early in the spell and do so well, it gave us confidence too,” Shami said.
“Overall the fast bowlers did well and he combined well with us. So we didn’t miss the second spinner as we had experience on our side and it can be seen in the results.”
Shami said playing together in the last few oversees tours has helped the team to produce a quality bowling unit.
“Even when you are not able to take wickets, you dry up the runs. Ashwin bowled well from one end while the runs stopped from the other end to create pressure and the wickets came in the end,” he said.
“This is the quality of our bowling unit which we have gained after playing two or three successive tours together. We are very happy as a bowling unit.”
(With inputs from PTI)