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Want to be one of the best in the world, which I firmly believe I am: Shabnim Ismail

Last updated on 26 Feb 2024 | 04:59 AM
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Want to be one of the best in the world, which I firmly believe I am: Shabnim Ismail

The right-arm seamer dismissed Beth Mooney, Veda Krishnamurthy and Harleen Deol and dismantled Gujarat’s batting line-up

Shabnim Ismail was happy when UP Warriorz released her prior to the 2024 Women’s Premier League, considering she got to play only three out of their nine games in the first season. The 35-year-old, who retired from international cricket in May 2023, was bought by Mumbai Indians and has been superb in the first two games.

After registering figures of 1/24 in the first match where Delhi Capitals slammed 171, Ismail was on fire against Gujarat Giants. The right-arm seamer dismissed Beth Mooney, Veda Krishnamurthy and Harleen Deol and dismantled Gujarat’s batting line-up. The Giants could only score 126/9, which Mumbai chased down with close to two overs to spare.

“I played for UP Warriorz last time and didn’t get much game time. I was happy to be released and I was hoping that someone picks me so that I can display my talent, and obviously have fun,” said Ismail, who took 3/18 in her four overs.

“It all boils down to commitment. I retired from international cricket a couple of months ago, but I still have that fire in me and that passion to play cricket. I want to be one of the best in the world, which I firmly believe I am. It is about putting in the hard yards, which I am doing really well,” added Ismail, who has now become a globe-trotting T20 freelancer.

In the two games in Bangalore, we witnessed four 150-plus totals but the surface wasn’t too easy to bat in the third encounter of the season on Monday (February 26). “It was so nice to bowl on that wicket in the first game because there was nice bounce. I had a look at the wicket today and it had a bit of a green look, so I thought it would be the same. But clearly not.

“After my first two balls, I had to assess and put in the necessary effort. This wicket was much slower and so I had to go fuller and just keep the wickets in play. Nice to be bowling and nice to be in the MI team because everybody supports you no matter if you’re doing good or bad. That is what makes us such a successful team.”

Talking about working with Jhulan Goswami, Ismail said: “Anjum (Chopra) just asked this question, ‘who’s coaching whom at the moment’ (laughs). She is a legend of the game. She calls me a legend of the game. 

“She tells me to put in a little bit more and get to that 130kph mark, but I tell her this is how I’ve been for the past 16 years. We share great amount of knowledge with each other. Issy Wong is in the lineup as well. The knowledge we share with each other helps us become more successful when we go out there and play.”

Ismail has been playing ahead of Issy Wong, who claimed 15 wickets in the first season, including a hat-trick in the Eliminator. “It’s not easy for her because I just walk into the team and start playing. I said to Issy, ‘my success is her success’. That’s how we play. We have a great amount of international players, a great amount of senior players, so for us, to share that with the youngsters is what makes us successful.

“Issy Wong has been great as well. She told me she is going to go everywhere with me and see what it is like to be in my shoes and how I train. I always say, the way I train is exactly the way I bowl in the middle. I am under pressure when I practice. Although it is a different batter, I just try to execute as best as I can.”

We thought she could be quite aggressive at the top: Mooney on Veda opening the innings

Gujarat never found any rhythm in their batting and lost seven wickets for just 78 runs. Kathryn Bryce (25 off 24) and Tanuja Kanwar (28 off 21) put on 48 runs for the eighth wicket and got Gujarat to 126. Mumbai took 18.1 overs to finish the game and Gujarat skipper Mooney felt her team was 20-30 runs short of what would have been an ideal total on this surface.

"We were 20-30 runs short, but the fightback with the bat from Kathryn Bryce and Tanuja Kanwar was really nice to see. That’s a positive to take out from the batting innings. Our bowlers then executed their plans really well and got us back in the game. The result isn’t ideal but it’s a long tournament. The results at the start don’t matter as much as the results at the backend of the tournament," said Mooney.

After contributing with bat, Scotland's Bryce also got the wicket of Yastika Bhatia to give her team the first breakthrough. For Mumbai, Nat Sciver-Brunt (22), Harmanpreet Kaur (46*) and Amelia Kerr (31) chipped in with the bat and got them their second win of the season.

"She is a great player and has had a long career for Scotland. She knows her game inside out and has a lot of insight on how the T20 cricket works. She played a beautiful game tonight. It’s a shame we couldn’t get over the line for her because she got us back in the contest both with the bat and ball. Those are the players you want in your team."

Talking about giving the opening slot to Veda Krishnamurthy, who got out for a duck, Mooney said: "We thought she could be quite aggressive at the top and perhaps I and her could compliment each other quite well. It didn’t come off tonight but she has the skillset to be able to take the game on with the new ball."

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