While all the focus and attention of India’s bowling attack is on Jasprit Bumrah, there is another man, with a strike rate even better than his more famous counterparts’ whose efforts and numbers have not been recognized in ODI cricket. Mohammed Shami is a genuine wicket-taker and a match-winner with the ball, was in splendid form in the IPL 2020 and is also the leading wicket-taker in ODIs during the last couple of years.
SHAMI – THE LEADING WICKET-TAKER IN THE WORLD IN ODI CRICKET SINCE 2019
Mohammed Shami has picked 50 wickets in just 25 matches at an average of 24.24 and strike rate of 25.7, including three 4-wicket hauls and one 5-wicket haul since the beginning of 2019. He is the highest wicket-taker in the world in ODI cricket during this period ahead of the likes of more illustrious names like Pat Cummins and Trent Boult.
Shami has been India’s biggest match-winner with the ball in ODI cricket in this period. With his more famous teammate, Jasprit Bumrah not in the best of forms in the format during this period, it is Shami who has led the Indian attack and come out with flying colours! India has won 21 of the 34 ODI matches since 2019 and has the second-best win percentage after New Zealand in this time-frame. Needless to say, Shami has played the pivotal role with the ball for his country during this period.
Shami was India’s joint-highest wicket-taker with 9 wickets in 4 matches at 15.33 apiece in the 4-1 drubbing of New Zealand in early 2019. Despite his splendid record in SENA (more on this later in the piece), he played just 4 matches in the 2019 World Cup in England. Shami picked a whopping 14 wickets in these matches at 13.78 a piece including a hat-trick against Afghanistan which sealed a thrilling and narrow win for India and saved them an embarrassing defeat, a 4-wicket haul against the West Indies which included the wickets of Gayle, Hope and Hetmyer and another fifer against hosts England (all top-middle order wickets). Shockingly, he was not included in the XI in the semi-final against New Zealand. Shami was also the highest wicket-taker with 7 wickets from 3 matches as India came from behind to beat Australia 2-1 at home in early 2020.
Shami has had a curious ODI career. He was amongst the best in the world from his debut till the end of the 2015 World Cup before an injury and some poor selection kept him in and out of the set up for nearly 4 years.
THE LEADING WICKET-TAKER IN THE WORLD FROM DEBUT TILL END OF 2015 WORLD CUP
Shami made his ODI debut against Pakistan in Delhi on the 6th of January, 2013 – he bowled four maidens in nine overs conceding just 23 runs. Since then he was a regular in the India ODI set-up till the 2015 World Cup. Shami had a great start to his ODI career. He was the leading wicket-taker in the world in ODI cricket from his debut till the end of the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand (29th March 2015). During this period, he aggregated 87 wickets in just 46 innings at an impressive average of 24.89. Even during this period, what stood out was his ability to pick wickets as evident from his strike rate of just 26.9.
GREAT RECORD IN WORLD CUP
Shami is also a big-match bowler. He has a sense of the occasion and raises his performance on the big stage – in the flagship tournament of cricket – the World Cup. Apart from showing his prowess in the 4 matches in the 2019 World Cup, he was also the fourth-highest wicket-taker in the 2015 World Cup – Shami picked 17 wickets in 7 innings at 17.29 apiece – after Starc and Boult (22 wickets) and Yadav (18 wickets).
Overall, Shami has accounted for 31 wickets in just 11 World Cup matches at 15.7 apiece. In fact, his strike rate of 18.6 is the best for any bowler (min. 30 wickets) in the history of World Cup Cricket! He has left ODI legends like Starc (19.1), Lee (23.5), Tait (24) and Malinga (24.8) behind.
EXCELLENT RECORD IN SENA
Shami has a staggering record in SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia) countries. He has picked 76 wickets in just 34 bowling innings at an average of 20.92 in SENA. But again, it is his wicket-taking prowess, ie his strike rate of 22.8 which stands out – it is the best in SENA amongst all bowlers from visiting teams from the subcontinent, West Indies and Zimbabwe.
Just for perspective, the legends he has left behind in the race include the likes of Waqar Younis (29), Shoaib Akhtar (29), Malinga (32.4), Andy Roberts (34.5) amongst others.
THE TOUGH PHASE
In spite of a stellar record in ODI cricket, Shami played just 5 ODIs in almost 4 years (none in 2016, 3 in 2017 and 2 in 2018) from the end of the 2015 World Cup till the ODI series in Australia in January, 2019. He was out of international cricket for 16 months courtesy a knee injury which he sustained during the tournament (2015 World Cup). Personal issues, injuries, poor selection and the rise of Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar kept Shami out of the ODI set up.
But perseverance and hardwork at last paid good dividends and Shami has returned with a bang!
OVERALL SUMMARY – HIGH QUALITY WICKETS & AMONGST THE BEST ODI STRIKE RATES OF ALL-TIME
Shami has two unique qualities which stand out. Firstly, he takes a lot of wickets – his strike rate of 27.2 is the third-best (min. 100 wickets) for all pace bowlers in ODI cricket history! Only Starc (26.3) and Mustafizur Rahman (26.4) have a better strike rate than Shami. This effectively means that Shami has a better propensity to pick wickets than the likes of Bond, Lee, Boult, Younis, Morkel, Akram, McGrath, Ambrose, Malinga, Donald, Akhtar, Steyn just to name a few all-time greats.
This makes Shami ODI royalty!
Secondly, as we saw in the IPL 2020, Shami has the knack of picking quality opposition batsmen – he, more often than not, gets the big names from the opposition. 99 of his 144 ODI wickets are of the opposition top 6 (68.75%).
A third quality which when combined with the above two makes Shami lethal in ODI cricket is his ability to strike with the new ball and get early wickets – 62 of his 144 wickets (43.05%) are dismissals below 10 and as many as 105 are below 30. This basically means that almost 73% of Shami’s wickets are of opposition batsmen who have not done any significant damage – this is a very impressive record!
Shami was the highest wicket-taker in ODI cricket in the world from his debut till the end of the 2015 World Cup. He is again the leading wicket-taker in the world from the beginning of 2019. In effect, this means that for 72 of his 77 ODI matches, ie 93.51% of his career, he has been the highest wicket-taker in the world in a format which many consider is not suited to his skill set.
High time to bust this myth!