Fast bowler Mohammed Shami shows his class in second Test of BGT series in New Delhi

His receding hairline and "missing patches on the head" were a sort of disguise as he bowled his heart out from morning to evening and grabbed four wickets.


Fast bowler Mohammed Shami shows his class in second Test of BGT series in New Delhi

Mohammed Shami

The nuances of Test cricket came to the fore on Day One of the second Test in the Border Gavaskar Trophy series at the Arun Jaitley Stadium on Friday. Contrary to the perception of the Aussies, the 22-yard strip was not filled with venom. That the visitors got to a first innings total of 263 was much better than their performances in the two innings of the first Test in Nagpur.

ADVERTISEMENT

Two men who enabled the Aussies to get to that total were opener Usman Khawaja, a classy batsman, who scored 81, and gifted Peter Handscomb who remained unbeaten on 72. At stumps, India were 21 for no loss after nine overs, with Rohit Sharma facing some anxious moments when floodlights had been turned on.

.For all the drama and suspense over the Ferozeshah Kotla pitch, it behaved quite well. By nature, the wicket in the Capital of India is bald. Yet, there was no sting in it, really, as the spinners got wickets, not due to vicious turns, but bowling sensibly. Talking of being bald, one man who caught the eye was Mohammed Shami. His receding hairline and “missing patches on the head” were a sort of disguise as he bowled his heart out from morning to evening and grabbed four wickets.

Just imagine, the Aussies had feared tweakers of the ball would take them for a spin. No, what one saw in the sunny Capital of India was Shami firing on all cylinders. This man has mellowed, like wine. If looks could fool, Shami does that well. With the new ball and even when it was past 74 overs, he was using it with great guile, as he finished with four wickets for 60 in 15.4 overs. This was medium-fast bowling of great skill, he was moving the ball, and his accuracy was spot-on. More important, getting the wickets of the Aussies at regular intervals, who are supposed to play pace bowling better, showed how much this man from Amroha in Uttar Pradesh is relevant to the Indian team.

ADVERTISEMENT

Related: Prithvi Shaw attacked by fans with baseball bat for refusing to take selfie

Mohammed Shami has handled the job with maturity

Mohammed Shami
Mohammed Shami

On a day when the chairman of the BCCI selection committee, Chetan Sharma, resigned after a sting operation had left many red-faced, Shami was the one with a sting when he bowled. In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, India’s tearaway and dangerous quickie, Shami has handled the job with maturity. That he is willing to lead the fight with the red cherry, playing in his 62nd Test at 32 plus age, shows his utility. If it was Shami who had made things tough for the visitors, the ever-reliable R. Ashwin was again a key bowler for India.

Just imagine, the veteran off-spinner has been so effective against the Aussies, their batters fear him like the dreaded Coronavirus. This was a beautiful day at a historic cricket venue that produced classic contests.

That on a weekday crowds showed up to watch Test cricket was proof there are takers for this format as well. After all, a fortnight ago, Ian Botham, Beefy to many, had proclaimed, India only wants to watch IPL and not Test cricket. His reference was to the Ashes series in England this summer being a sell-out. Be that as it may, for Delhiwallahs to show up for Test cricket is good. Over the weekend, there should be more coming to watch a good contest.

ADVERTISEMENT

To be sure, after the pedestrian batting show in the first Test, two men who held forth for Australia, Khawaja, and Handscomb showed batting was possible with proper application. Perhaps, they learned there was no point in getting psyched out by thinking the ball would play tricks and spin would devour them. Spin will be the theme in this series, for, even the Aussies surprisingly seem to rely on them. Just imagine, left-arm spinner Matthew Kuhnemann, a left-arm spinner, was bowing the second over after Pat Cummins had taken the new ball.

Such a thing with Aussies was unimaginable in the past, where a spinner would be handling the red cherry, just one over old. Had it been the old Aussies, they may have relied on fast bowlers to come out firing against the Indian openers. Call it a sign of changing times. There is still plenty of cricket left in the second Test. Rohit Sharma and the company will feel happy they ended the day without any damage.

In case you missed:

“My dream is to win WTC final,” Cheteshwar Pujara says ahead of his 100th Test match

ADVERTISEMENT

“Those idlers sitting in front of a computer,” Ravindra Jadeja hits back at trolls