New Delhi: Team India’s dream run came to an end with a billion heartbreaks as Australia clinched their sixth title by securing a six-wicket victory in Ahmedabad on Sunday. The tournament’s leading wicket-taker, pacer Mohammed Shami, set the tone with a fiery start, claiming David Warner on his very first ball. But despite this promising beginning, India couldn’t seize the moment.
Emerging as the most impressive sportsperson in the tournament with 24 wickets from eight games, including three impressive fifers, Shami’s journey since 2015 has been nothing short of a movie script. Shami, who’s also the PUMA brand ambassador, spoke his heart out in an extensive interview during his visit to the sports brand’s headquarter in Bengaluru.
“Nobody knew the pain I was dealing with [during the 2015 edition],” Shami confessed during a candid chat with PUMA as he revealed his success mantra of not taking a close look at the wicket before the start of the match, just to keep himself relaxed.
In the exclusive interview, Shami also opened up about various facets of his difficult yet impressive cricketing journey, right from scoring a century as an opener in his first leather ball match, earning money through cricket for the first time at around 16 years of age, overcoming personal challenges bravely, creating an old-school training set-up at farmhouse, to maiden India call-up and many more as the compelling interview was uploaded by PUMA on its YouTube channel today.
“I had swelling in my knee before the 2015 tournament. Someone else could have said no but I have the ability to bear pain and I was told two options—either directly go for surgery or play the tournament and then go for the surgery. While the team would return to the hotel after every match, I would go to the hospital to take the injection. When you play for the country, you forget everything,“ Shami shared in the interview.
Shami underwent a knee operation. “I was unconscious for two hours. When I woke up, I asked the doctor when I could start playing. He replied, ‘It will be a big achievement if you walk without a limp, forget playing. It all depends on how you go about your rehab,” Shami said.
Shami has not looked back since. His comeback journey has been visibly inspirational. He not only surpassed the likes of bowling greats to become the highest wicket-taker for the country in the world’s biggest cricket tournament with 55 wickets from 18 matches, but also created history earlier in the semi-finals when he registered India’s best ODI bowling figures of 7-57.
The 33-year-old shared his secret that helps him perform better. “Generally, bowlers check the pitch after arriving at the ground. I never go close to the wicket because you will know how it behaves only when you bowl on it. Then why take the pressure? It’s best to keep it simple, keep yourself relaxed and only then you will perform better,” said Shami, as he also revealed that he doesn’t follow any pre-match ritual.
“Better hai aap subah utho, mast fresh hojao, chaay peeyo, gaane suno [it’s better you wake up, get fresh, have tea and listen to songs] ” he added.
Talking about PUMA’s revolutionary Let There Be Sport initiative and the importance of sports culture in the country, Shami commented, “If the child has the talent, he should be supported. It’s not necessary that every child will study and become an engineer or sit in top position. If your child is talented, he can reach greater heights in sports as well.”
Although Shami was in stellar form in the tournament, he had to sit out for the initial few matches. In the interview, he shared that it bothered him but the team’s performance made him happy. “When you sit out for four matches, you need to be mentally strong. Sometimes you are under pressure but when you see the team performing well and going in a good direction, it gives you satisfaction.”
He added that he doesn’t look at record books and only tries to take as many wickets as possible.
Watch the full interview on PUMA’s YouTube channel