It was Mohammed Shami who helped India to stop New Zealand from running away with the game in the World Test Championship final in Southampton on Tuesday (June 22). The right-arm paceman from Bengal took 4/74, as the Black Caps could only manage a marginal lead of 32 runs.
There were some question marks over his selection ahead of the final but Shami proved his value as India's premier enforcer when it mattered the most. The 30-year-old is an attacking bowler and always goes for wickets.
"Whenever the team has needed me, I have given my 100 percent. I always try to attack, go for the wickets. Once the captain guides me on where to bowl, I focus on doing that, trying to maintain the kind of line and length expected from me," said Shami, who has taken 122 wickets at a strike rate of 53.5 in 35 away Tests.
"I wanted to keep it tight today. The idea was to restrict them, bowl in the right areas. I never regret missing out on five-wicket hauls or other such achievements. Such thoughts don’t cross our minds. I love playing for my country and that is it."
India were 64/2 at stumps on the fifth day with a 32-run lead. Skipper Virat Kohli and seasoned Cheteshwar Pujara were at the crease. Shami said India would set New Zealand a target only after getting enough "back-up runs" on the final day, hinting that the team would adopt a 'safety first' approach.
"We have lost a lot of time due to rain. So there is no discussion as such, on a total. We have just started our second innings and we need to put runs on the board. We have to score as many as possible and then see how much time is left to put them in and decide accordingly.
"In conditions like England, anything can happen but we simply can't have a pre-plan in mind that we can get them out in this many overs. You need time to get 10 wickets and some solid plans in place. But first, we need to enough back-up runs."
Shami was pleased that the plans that he wanted to execute came off nicely. "Obviously as you play the Test match, you can't stick to one plan for five days. You need to be flexible and set up lines as per the track.
"We needed to bowl those tight lines which benefits the team in order to restrict New Zealand to as less as possible. So the pressure created momentum and we got wickets in clutches."