Team India's fast bowling warhorse Mohammad Shami.
Mohammed Shami proved once again on Wednesday that he is ready to enter the legend territory. In the high-octane semi-final against New Zealand, he took seven wickets, the highest for any Indian bowler at a World Cup. His spell ensured India's place in the finals on November 19. Shami's career has seen many ups and downs, and there came a point when he wanted to quit cricket. But the bowler rose like a phoenix, shining brighter than any other star.
UP cricketer who shone in Bengal
Shami's love for cricket started at a young age because of his father, who was a fast bowler in Uttar Pradesh. However, he only played at village level, but the short stint laid the foundation for Shami. His elder brother, Mohammed Hasib, was also a fast bowler.
When Shami started, he received setbacks in the initial year. "When Mohammad Shami was not picked for the Under-19 team of Uttar Pradesh, he was very disappointed," Badruddin, Shami's former coach, told The Times of India in an interview.
Badruddin added that they were at the Kanpur railway station, and a visibly disheartened Shami, despite showcasing impeccable bowling skills during the trial, was shedding "tears of frustration" because he hadn't gotten through the selection. "His emotional turmoil was such that he even declined food."
Luck came knocking on the door when Shami's coach got a call from a Kolkata club that was looking for a fast bowler, and Shami turned out to be a treasure for them.
A net session supervised by Sourav Ganguly
According to the Cricbuzz, Shami made his way into the Under-22 Bengal side, and after a specially conducted net session supervised by Sourav Ganguly, he was recognised as a special talent. He rose through the ranks and soon got a chance to represent West Bengal in Ranji.
Wasim Akram's guidance
After Ranji, Shami was signed by the Kolkata Knight Riders of the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise in 2011. Kolkata's head coach, Dav Whatmore, had worked with the Bengal Cricket Association and had identified Shami, who had played Twenty20 matches for Bengal, as a player with potential.
According to Crictoday, Shami's coach during his time with Mohun Bagan, Monayem, credited the legendary Pakistani fast bowler Wasim Akram for his evolution as a bowler. Akram's mentorship during KKR days and focus on refining Shami's release and wrist position played a pivotal role in shaping the bowler's skills.
"Wasim Akram put in a lot of effort with him. Despite limited game time for KKR, he consistently stayed close to Wasim. It's Wasim Akram who shaped him into the bowler he is today, along with his own hard work, of course," he said.