Pushed by his brother to join the team to make up the numbers, Shami played an innings that would change his life.kxp
Speedster Mohammed Shami has been a consistent performer for the Indian cricket team ever since his debut against Pakistan in 2013 and is widely known for his excellent control of line and length that has left batsmen bamboozled across the globe.
But his ingress into the sport came as a hard-hitting batsman at the district level. "I was scared of the season ball so I preferred playing tennis ball cricket," recalls Shami. "But my elder brother Hasib had entered a team into a district level cricket tournament. His team was a player short and needed a batsman, so he pushed me to join and I did.
"Honestly, I wasn't into cricket that much when I was younger. My uncle, my father and my brothers were excellent fast bowlers and loved the game," he points out. "I just tagged along."
Shami's brother Hasib Ahmed, who the pacer believes was a better bowler than him, had seen his younger brother bat in their locality and trusted him to bring that aggressive style to the fray in the tournament as well.
Having never faced a season ball, Shami was quite apprehensive to go out in the center and bat fearing an injury - a concern that his father reiterated - but Hasib had the utmost belief in young Mohammed's abilities.
"He told me 'Listen. You open up your body, give yourself room to free your arms and just hit it along the line. I've seen you do it in tennis-ball cricket and the principle there applies the same here as well.' That advice game me much needed some confidence," Shami revealed his brother's advice.
Following that crash course in batting, Shami went out in the center and smashed the first ball that he faced across the ropes. "I connected so well on that very first delivery, it was liberating. Following that, I just didn't stop. They kept bowling at me, and I kept swinging my bat and depositing the ball across the rope," he says.
According to Shami's own recollection, the youngster smashed 14 sixes in the innings and that motivated him to continue playing cricket and also work on his genetical gift of fast bowling. Shami hasn't looked back since and has gone on to become one of the most reliable pace bowlers of his generation. But it all kicked off on that day, when Shami launched an onslaught with the bat for his brother's team.