And his 7 for 57 against New Zealand on Wednesday during the semifinal guaranteeing India a spot in the final, was a master-class that put even Virat Kohli’s 50th ODI century, surpassing Sachin Tendulkar’s earlier record, under a shadow.
With 23 wickets in just seven appearances, Shami has taken more wickets than any other bowler in the WC, thus moving Adam Zampa into second place.
In fact, no Indian bowler has taken as many in a World Cup. Even Zaheer Khan had 21 in the entire 2011 edition which India won by beating Sri Lanka in the final.
Shami’s Feat Also Includes a Few Other Firsts
In the history of the World Cup, he is the only bowler to have taken five or more wickets in a match four times. He has already claimed the lives of an astounding 54 victims throughout his three World Cups.
But this 33-year-old speedster’s success at the World Cup is based on more than just numbers. It results from him developing his talents to the highest levels and from his strong desire, tenacity, and hard effort to conquer great obstacles.
Who would have imagined him to be sitting at the top of the wicket takers list after he hadn’t even played in India’s first three matches at the World Cup? The team management preferred Mohammed Siraj over him along with lethal Jasprit Bumrah. It was only after Pandya got injured that Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid looked towards to Shami to come to the team’s rescue.
And Shami was eagerly awaiting this chance, just like many a times before in white ball cricket, when he was made to sit out without any real reasons.
However, his place in the five-day format has never been in doubt, missing out on some matches only due to injury or work overload.
But it was mostly in white ball cricket that he was perceived as “expensive” and therefore kept out for the last couple of years. In fact, it was during the 2019 World Cup in England that he was not in the playing 11 during the initial matches, just like the ongoing WC.
And when he got his chance, he then finished with a healthy bag of wickets.
Gritty Shami's Remarkable Comeback
But his worst cricketing moment came in the 2021 T20 World Cup when Shami was heavily trolled by his own country’s cricket fans after a bad performance against Pakistan. He subsequently lost his place in the T20 side also.
The gritty Shami made a remarkable comeback in both ODIs and T20s in the coming days with superb statistics. In fact, his current strike rate and economy rate are amongst the best in the world.
But spare a thought for those 19 months between November 2020 and July 2022 before this Amroha Express was recalled into the 50-over format. This, too, because Bumrah and the other preferred young speedster Prasidh Krishna got injured.
Given his current strike rate, his tally of wickets would have been much more had he not been benched in the first four matches of the world cup.
Those who know Shami well, like his childhood coach and friend Mohammed Badruddin, can tell the whole world how he only thinks about improving his skills on and off the field.
Shami invested his own money to build a full-size cricket facility within his farmland long back. Few know that he ensured that there are three different kinds of surfaces there — flat, grassy, and hard — to fine-tune his skills for all kinds of surfaces around the world.
Virat Kohli: Surpassing Sachin In More Ways Than One
On the other hand, Virat Kohli’s performance in this world cup is nothing short of historic, scoring 711 runs so far in 10 innings.
An average of over 101 with the help of three hundreds and five half-centuries is enough to remind all that he is the leading run-scorer of the ongoing tournament.
This Delhi-born batter has also surpassed legendary Sachin Tendulkar’s 2003 WC mark of scoring the most runs in a single edition of the tournament. And there is still a game to go and King Kohli, as he is now being called by most cricket fans for his heroics with the bat, can become India’s second player, alongside Ravichandran Ashwin, to lift this coveted trophy for the second time in his playing career.
In 2009, when Kohli scored his first century in an ODI at Kolkata against Sri Lanka, very few people could have imagined that he would go on to break even Tendulkar’s footsteps in contemporary cricket.
This was the time when Team India was trying to overcome the bad memories of the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbeans. A World Cup win in 2011 and the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013 was enough to lift the mood of this cricket-crazy country. India also rose to the top of the Test cricket rankings during this period.
Kohli led the transition phase after the majority of the veterans said goodbye to the sport. Among them were Sachin, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, and Anil Kumble.
Apart from a brief spell when Kohli picked up a fight with chief coach Kumble during the time of Supreme Court-appointed administrator, Vinod Rai, his leadership took the Indian team to new heights. The team became number one in the Test rankings and won the away series in Australia and England.
And here he is now.
Incredible, Incredible Stats!
Kohli will have been a member of the sport’s all-time greats by the end of 2023. Across all forms of the game, Kohli has played 573 innings in 517 matches for India in his 15 years as an international cricket player. He has amassed 26,478 runs in that time.
To date, in 111 Test matches, Kohli has played 187 innings and scored 8,676 runs at an average of 49.29. However, in 291 ODI matches, he has played 279 innings and scored 13,794 runs, which is the third-highest total in this version of the game (he also has an average of 58.69).
Furthermore, in 115 T20 International games, Kohli has played 107 innings and hit 4,008 runs at an average of 52.73.
In the history of cricket, Tendulkar is the only batsman to score 100 international hundreds. On the other side, Kohli has 80 hundreds to date. In Test cricket, he has 29 of them, including a career-high 254 not out against South Africa. With 50 tons under his belt, Kohli is the record holder for most hundreds in the 50-over format in ODIs.
In T20 Internationals, Kohli has also hit one century, his best being 122 not out (against Afghanistan in 2022).
The 35-year-old Delhiite has a few more years left in his career, and he might break even more records and accomplish even more significant goals in international cricket.
As the 2023 World Cup bandwagon moves to Ahmedabad for the grand finale, all eyes will be on Kohli and Shami to recreate their magic one more time.
(Chander Shekhar Luthra is a sports journalist. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)