Mohammed Shami brushed aside concerns over teammate Ishant Sharma’s fitness after the veteran seamer was used in brief spells by skipper Virat Kohli against England on Day Two at Headingley.
Ishant, who began the day’s proceedings for India with figures of 8-0-27-0, had a poor outing and he struggled against England captain Joe Root in particular. The 34-year-old, who seemed to be in certain discomfort, was employed in five different spells by Kohli – the opening phase being the longest with four overs. Ishant ended the day wicketless, giving away 92 runs from 22 overs.
Shami, the pick of India’s bowlers with figures of 3/87, said it was natural for the captain to shuffle his bowlers through the day as they received minimal support from the surface. “As we were fielding for long periods, the captain wanted to give shorter spells of three, four overs. It’s not always possible to maintain a spell of eight or nine overs,” Shami said at a virtual media interaction.
Led by a sensational 121 from Root and able knocks from top-order batters, Rory Burns (61), Haseeb Hameed (68), and Dawid Malan (70) – England blunted the Indian bowling attack and stormed to a 345-run lead at stumps on Day 2 at Headingley.
“It [Bowling longer spells] depends on the situation and rhythm of the bowler. The captain needs to look at which bowlers need to recover and whom to give the short or long spell to. If you’ve noticed, you’d see that Ishant began the day and completed the last spell for us. There are no doubts over his fitness,” Shami said in defence of the senior pacer.
‘Series far from over’
England’s comeback after the loss at Lord’s has placed it in a position to level the series with a resounding win in the third Test.
Shami, however, dispelled concerns over India’s performance and labelled it as a plain aberration. “It happens sometimes. There is no need to feel low or get affected mentally because two Tests still remain. We are still 1-0 up, so there is no need to panic. We just need to believe in our skill, and back ourselves.”