Babasish Nanda

Fresh pitches and live grass will assist Mohammed Shami’s impeccable seam position.

If you have ever held a cricket ball like a fast bowler does, then you’ll know the wholesome feeling when your index finger and the middle finger sits perfectly on the seam. Mohammed Shami does that for a living and he is one of the best exponents of seam and swing in modern day cricket. KL Rahul while speaking to the broadcasters after Lucknow’s opening game said, “I have played enough alongside Shami to know that if the pitch has something to offer then he’s the best person to exploit it.”

The phrase, ‘Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties’ doesn’t necessarily stem from its core principle. It is a game that is won or lost by the margin of runs scored. Just as in football that metric is goals scored. But unlike any other outdoor sport, cricket is ruled by several God’s particles. The behavior of the sun, soil, grass, leather and even wind often defines the composition of the contest.

This battle between bat and ball is affected by the conditions it is played under. This edition of IPL will be hosted entirely in Maharashtra. It is a state where most afternoons are cooler than the evenings and the nights are more dewy than the mornings. Keeping the peak summers in mind it is understandable that the curators have left plenty of live grass on these pitches. For when the tournament goes deep, these surfaces will have enough life, not to dry up and crumble.

The Kookaburra Turf white ball that is manufactured in a ‘state of the art’ facility in Melbourne is preferred over its competitors in the IPL. The seam of these white balls is partially hand stitched and also are machine stitched. The inner thread is hand crafted and the outer stitching is machine made hence it provides good grip for the bowlers. Shami uses this to his greatest advantage. In 2019, India’s then bowling coach Bharat Arun made a remark that Shami presents the best seam position in the world. Even in an era, where there are many world class fast bowlers, nobody sends the seam down like he does. His seam is held upright at the point of delivery and his wrist is dead straight. The majority of his tension is on the thumb and the forefinger. He uses the middle finger to balance the ball.

The type of a fast bowler Shami is, he relies a lot on his short, skiddy nature and delivers the ball at an awkward angle where the time of decision making for the batsman is limited. This ominous seam position allows him to constantly move the ball both ways. After removing Rahul, edging him off his first ball of the tournament, he did set up Quinton de Kock with a few deliveries that seamed away and then eventually seamed the ball back on to his stumps.

His first set of overs with the new ball will be Titans' best chance to strike early. This will give his captain, Hardik Pandya enough breathing space while he plots his return as a full time allrounder.

Also the average age of the Titans side is only 23. It is a young bowling attack that will look up to Shami to lead them in the middle with the ball. While the conditions will suit India’s premier speedster, it will be up to him to create an atmosphere where upcoming fast bowlers can learn the art of fast and seam bowling to be specific.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)