Not a lot of players would experience what Shoaib Bashir has felt in the last few days. A complete green-horn even on first-class standards, Bashir was picked in the England squad for the India tour after Ben Stokes saw a clip of the bowler on X. He championed his cause and boom, Bashir looked all set for an England debut despite only six FC caps.
But as fate would have it, it was to be delayed. A visa issue left him stranded in the UAE and he failed to make the cut for the first Test in Hyderabad. He took a flight back to London to sort out the visa issue as England handed a debut cap to Tom Hartley. When re-joined the squad, a chance looked slim - especially because Hartley had impressed with a seven-wicket haul in the second innings, but Jack Leach failing to recover from his knee injruy meant he was handed a debut cap in Visakhapatnam.
“I’m just going to look back on this day and think about getting Rohit Sharma out, I think that’s all that matters really. I had no doubts at all that I’d make it here, I always knew I would get the visa. It was a bit of a hassle but we’re here now, I’ve made my debut, and that’s all that counts. I’m pretty chilled,” Bashir said in the press conference.
“It’s been a very special day. To get Rohit Sharma out, my first wicket is an incredible feeling. I just let it all out. He’s a quality player, one of the best in the world, and a great player of spin as well.”
Ben Stokes’ captaincy philosophy has revolved around trusting his players and providing them with a sense of security. Despite Bashir not having any big CV to back his presence, Stokes let him bowl a staggering 28 overs - 10 more than any other bowler. He ended up with the wicket of Axar Patel too - providing a crucial peek into India's lower order.
“Stokesy is such an incredible lad. He made me feel at ease straight away in the huddle and with all I’ve been through over the past two or three weeks,” Bashir said.
“He has been so supportive. Credit to Stokesy, he’s backed me all the way. He basically just said to me, ‘Remember why you started playing the game, remember your family’. He said, ‘Go out there and show what you’ve got. We already know, we’ve seen you, so go out and do what you do best’. Those words helped me massively with my confidence," the Somerset spinner added.
That confidence will do a world of good to the spinner when they take the field again on Day 2 - with India resuming from 336/5. Bashir is confident that they will be able to go through the lower order to give England the advantage.
"It was a tough pitch to bowl on. It didn't offer too much, but I thought the way the boys went about it was awesome for us to pick up six wickets… we'll get again tomorrow, hopefully get a breakthrough and get batting out there."
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