Sabyasachi Bagchi, Kolkata: Indian cricket team’s pace spearhead Mohammad Shami has been touring abroad with the side many times. But the forthcoming South Africa series will be a totally different tour for him. India hasn’t won a series in South Africa in 25 years time; on the other hand Shami himself is in front of two milestone too. Ahead of the Proteas tour, India’s No.1 pacer is in total holiday mood. In between that the ‘Sahespur Express’ has given an exclusive interview to www.xtratime.in.
Here goes the conversation:
XT: There is a lot of hope that you will perform well in South Africa. Do you feeling the pressure?
Shami: Look, the cricket lovers always want wicket from me, but I don’t want to take any added pressure on me ahead of the tour as it will affect my performance. At the end of the day it will harm me as well as my team. I am only looking forward to give my 100 percent for the team in South Africa.
XT: You have taken 95 wickets in Tests and 91 wickets in ODIs. You are just a few wickets away to get in the 100 wickets club. What is your feeling ahead of reaching this milestone?
Shami: It will be a great achievement for me if I reach there, but you know I don’t play for my personal milestone. I always try to give my best for the team. If I keep my basics right I will automatically reach to the milestone.
XT: In the last tour the team almost won the Johannesburg Test, but later they lost the Durban Test as well as the series. Do you remember anything about the series?
Shami: Yes I remember everything. It was my first tour of South Africa. I took the wickets of AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and JP Duminy. I shared the ball with Zaheer bhai and Ishant in that series, but Dale Steyn bowled brilliantly during the Durban Test and we lost the series. Though we had lost the series but our performance was not that bad.
XT: Do you think the team has a chance to win the series this time?
Shami: We all are hoping for the best as our moral is very high ahead of the tour. The team has played really well at home in last couple of years and if we can perform to our potential, history will definitely be made.
XT: As per the cricket pundits, this Indian bowling line-up is the best line-up that they have ever seen. So you must dominate you all must dominate the Proteas batting line-up. Isn’t it?
Shami: I don’t know who have told you this kind of things. If we think of us that way, it would be an insult for the legends who bowled for the nation in past and that won’t be a right thing. I just can say that we all are match winners and all the bowlers have the capability to turn the game in India’s favour and we will do that when the time comes.
XT: Dale Steyn has already started verbal war against India. Do you know that?
Shami: Not only Steyn, anybody can say anything or write anything, but we are only eyeing to give our 100 percent and I just want to clear that the team don’t fear anybody and we are ready for the counter punch. We have played fearless cricket in last couple of years time and we will do the same in our upcoming tour too.
XT: Do you think veterans like AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn would be eyeing to beat India for one last time before their retirement?
Shami: Yes they will definitely try to take the revenge of their loss on our home soil, but we don’t fear them as our plan is ready too. We will discuss about this matter during our next team meeting.
XT: Do you have any special plan to stop the Proteas batsmen?
Shami: I don’t tell anything regarding this matter in front of the media. I just want to say we n=must avoid short bowling against them, as they always play on the bouncy wicket from the very first day of their career. They are very good players of playing the square-cut, pull and hook shot. This time we have some different plans for them.
XT: In your four years career you have suffered a lot due to injuries. Ahead of playing a long series in South Africa, any special plan to keep you fit?
Shami: (With smile) it’s right that my career has been affected by prolonged injuries, but thanks to Allah, I have returned to the ground. I have done hard training and gym to keep myself fit. I have changed my diet to perform well in this format and that is helping me to keep me fit for a long period of time. During my holidays I am doing the training that is suggested by our fitness trainer Shankar Basu.
XT: Beside the Test series, the selectors have picked you for the ODI series too. What is your thought regarding this matter?
Shami: I talked with the team management and told them that I want to play all the games in South Africa. I had planned in last few months according to that as I don’t want to miss any game in South Africa.
XT: In the sub-continent your primary weapon is reverse-swing. Will that be effective on South African pitches too?
Shami: From the very start of my international career, reverse swing is my primary weapon. But not only me, Ishant, Bhuvi and Umesh too can bowl reverse-swing. If the situation needs we will use that weapon too.
XT: You didn’t get any practice game there ahead of the Test series. Will it harm the team?
Shami: I don’t think so, as far as I think, it will help us. In my last outing I had personally seen that the bowlers were not up to the mark or they had given us some amateur bowlers during our net session. Now the BCCI has decided to send Indian bowlers who will bowl us at the nets. We will get practice from the bowlers who have done really well in the Ranji Trophy and this is a great decision of the board. The first Test is set to start from January 5. Ahead of that we will start our camp after reaching Newlands.