Kolkata: Shami Ahmed is indebted to Pakistan bowling great Wasim Akram who, the Bengal pacer said, played as instrumental role in his progression as a seam bowler.
Riding on his impressive performance in the domestic circuit, Shami on Sunday got a India call up after the national selectors named him in the 15-member squad for the upcoming three-match ODI series against Pakistan. "Wasim bhai helped me a lot as Kolkata Knight Riders coach. He told me that the key to take wickets is to reverse the ball by bowling 135kmph-plus. He told me if I can reverse swing at that pace then I can be successful," Shami said.
"I have worked really hard after getting his tips. I did some heavy weight training to increase my stamina so that I can bowl at pace consistently. His tips have helped me in getting wickets. I am thankful to him," said the humble 22-year-old right-arm pacer who hails from Sahaspur in the Moradabad district of Uttar Pradesh.
Shami registered a match haul of 10 for 107 to bowl Bengal to their first Ranji Trophy victory this season in the previous match against Hyderabad at Eden Gardens. He has also captured 28 wickets from five Ranji Trophy games this season. "This is the best thing to have ever happened to me. I got to know about this from Saurashish Lahiri and spoke to my parents," Shami said about his selection in the national team.
"I am told that there's already a celebration outside my house with people beating drums and dancing. Whatever I am today is because of my parents. They have supported me always and I am lucky to get their full backing," he added.
With a bit of luck on his side, Shami might get the opportunity to make his debut against bitter rivals Pakistan. Asked about the prospect of making a likely debut against Pakistan, Shami said, "My job is to take wickets. I don't look at the reputation of a team or batsman. I just focus on bowling at the right areas and with the right pace."
On insistence of his coaches at the Hindu College in Moradabad who had spotted his talent during a local tournament, Shami landed up in Kolkata to play club cricket. Shami played for Dalhousie AC before representing Mohun Bagan. But the turning point in his career came after he joined KKR last season.
"They (my coaches) have convinced my parents to make cricket as my career. They told my parents that I had stamina and pace and so I shifted my base to Kolkata in 2006," he said about his journey. "I had heard from my friends about playing in Kolkata's first division league. So I landed up here and gave my first trial at CC&FC."
If given a chance, Shami said he will relish the prospect of bowling alongside Bengal teammate Ashok Dinda. "I am looking forward to bowl alongside Dinda. We really know each other well and we also complement each other on the field," he said.