RANCHI: When Wriddhiman Saha whipped off the bails as Temba Bavuma‘s desperate attempt to get back to the crease failed, the handful spectators at JSCA International Cricket Stadium erupted. It was their man Shahbaz Nadeem, the Jharkhand captain, who had just picked up his maiden Test wicket.
This moment took fifteen years in coming.
“As a cricketer I used to think ‘I’ve watched a lot of cricket on TV, I want others to see what I’m capable of,” he said on Monday. “That dream has come true. I had to work hard for this.”
SA 132/8 in the 2nd Innings at the end of Day 3. A brilliant bowling display from #TeamIndia. Join us for Day 4 tom… https://t.co/Y8SjQR4gr2
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1571658312000
How hard he had to work and how hungry he was for the India cap became clear when he said, “When you play cricket for so many years, if somebody calls you at 4 o’clock in the morning and says you have to play a match at six, you’ll have no problems. So I had no issues about the team management calling me up just a few hours before a Test match.”
Nadeem revealed that he was in the middle of his Friday namaz when his phone rang. He got the good news when he called back after completing his prayer, and rushed to Ranchi by road from Kolkata, where he now lives.
How much does one value a national call-up? Ask Test debutant Shahbaz Nadeem 🇮🇳🇮🇳 #TeamIndia #INDvSA @Paytm https://t.co/KYiihjQryA
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1571661660000
It is difficult to make the selectors take you seriously playing for Jharkhand as they rarely make it to the final stages of Ranji Trophy. But Nadeem’s performance forced selectors to make him a regular in the A teams, where he has taken a lot of wickets. The Indian Premier League has also been a decently successful venture for him.
Nadeem’s strength, like all good orthodox spinners, is flighting the ball and beating the batsman with turn, as his maiden Test victim Temba Bavuma would testify. Understandably, Nadeem was delighted with the way that wicket came. “It was a left-arm spinner’s ideal delivery,” he remarked.
The ball even impressed the great Bishan Singh Bedi, who tweeted, “What a splendid 1st Test wkt fr #Nadeem…he did #Bavuma twice..in the air..& then off the pitch…excellent spectacle..!! Well done Nadeem..!!”
What a splendid 1st Test wkt fr #Nadeem…he did #Bavuma twice..in the air..& then off the pitch…excellent specta… https://t.co/HVLJbAeFZS
— Bishan Bedi (@BishanBedi) 1571636536000
But when did he adopt to this bowling style, having started as a bowler who bowled flat?
“When I started playing for Jharkhand, I was just a 15-year-old kid, so I didn’t think much about my bowling. I used to bowl flat. But back then Jharkhand didn’t have spinners, our team depended on pacers. So we used to play on grassy wickets. After playing for 4-5 seasons, I understood that I have to give air to the ball. Only then can I exploit some help that could be there in the wicket. That’s when I started bowling slower and with flight.”