While the conditions have been batting friendly at The Oval in the fifth and final Test between England and India, Mohammed Shami repeatedly troubled the English batsmen, but unfortunately finished with only two wickets in the whole contest. In the first innings, Shami went wicketless (0/72) and in the second he returned figures of 2/110.
His figures do little justice to how well he bowled. Shami regularly beat the bat in both innings but failed to make an impact on the wickets column, which he admits was extremely frustrating.
"It depends on luck sometimes," Shami rued after the fourth day’s play at The Oval. "As a bowler, your main target is to hit good areas consistently, especially with the new ball. Whether that yields wickets depends on luck, but it is certainly a bit frustrating.. the ball beat the bat several times, but it's fine, I've to accept the wickets I got.”
The fast bowler’s misery was compounded when Ishant Sharma left the field due to a 'discomfort' and India fell a bowler short. Without Hardik Pandya to share the burden with, Shami had to bowl more overs on the fourth day of the Test. He bowled a total of 25 overs, the second highest after Ravindra Jadeja’s 47 overs, in England's second innings of 423/8 declared, which set India an improbable target of 464.
"It is difficult when you're one bowler short, and in these conditions you'll have to bowl since it is fast-bowler friendly. Yes, the load increases but it's nothing so serious. It happens, bowlers feel discomfort and as a means of preventing injury, you leave the field. We have a great understanding in the bowling group in that regard."
The bowler though was looking at the positives and felt he had made significant progress when compared to the tour of 2014.
"I've learnt a lot. When we had come here in 2014, we didn't even have that much experience and we weren't mature (as bowlers). This time, we watched a lot of videos of Jimmy Anderson and (Stuart) Broad to see where they pitched the ball, especially in English conditions. As compared to last time, we did better this time," Shami told the media present.
“We learnt, especially when you are playing in someone’s home ground, what they do, what you have to focus on. So, it was learning from them as well as gaining from the confidence of our own unit.”
In the Test series, Shami finished with 10 wickets to his name, with two coming in the final game, where England are on course to give Alastair Cook a fitting farewell. The 33-year-old scored 147 in his final innings after an elegant half-century in the first.