Cricket news - Diverse in skillset, united in goal: Shami on pace pack's success

Since 2018, only Bumrah (68), has taken more overseas Test wickets than Shami's 61

Since 2018, only Bumrah (68), has taken more overseas Test wickets than Shami's 61

Mohammed Shami believes that he and his fellow pacers have the unity in goal and diversity in the skill to challenge a significantly stronger Australian side two years from their historic series victory Down Under.

The Virat Kohli-led Indian squad arrived in Australia immediately after the conclusion of the Indian Premier League on November 10th and have been allowed to practice in a bio-secure bubble during quarantine in the city.

Once renowned for their spinners, India have turned a new leaf with their pace department and the emergence of a quality pace bowling group, under the guidance of head coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun and the support of their captain has meant that they have played a vital role in India's recent dominance in the red-ball format of the game.

Shami himself has been a much improved bowler and since 2018, only teammate, Jasprit Bumrah (68), has taken more overseas Test wickets than his 61. Crediting the development to the bonhomie among the quicks, Shami said that the rising stock of pacers in the country will hold the team in good shape. "The success of this group is largely because of the camaraderie we share among ourselves. There is no real secret as such but it lies in each other's strengths. We have a common goal and all of us look to collectively achieve that," Shami told bcci.tv.

"There is a healthy competition but there is no rivalry within the group. If you look at the numbers, we have managed to pick 20 wickets almost on all our away tours. Even at home in the Freedom Trophy (against South Africa) or the pink-ball Test (against Bangladesh), the fast bowling group was very effective. We have a lot of discussion among ourselves. We hunt in pairs," he added.

While the tour starts with white-ball cricket, Shami and the team's focus is already on the four Tests (starting on December 17th) and it came as no real surprise that the team opted for open nets during their practice sessions.

"My focus area has been the red ball and I am working on my lengths and seam movement. I have always felt that once you start pitching the ball at the lengths you desire, you can succeed in different formats. What you need is control. I have done well with the white-ball and now spending time in the nets bowling with the red ball. You don't bowl in the same area since both formats are different, but your basics don't change much," the 30-year old said.

The Coronavirus pandemic has ensured very little match practice for the team in general, but Shami was grateful for the Indian Premier League (IPL) -- where he excelled for the Kings XI Punjab -- for the chance to get into the active cricket mould. "My performances for KXIP in IPL has given me a lot of confidence and put me in the right zone.

"The biggest advantage is that I can now prepare for the upcoming series without any pressure. There is no burden on me. I am very comfortable at the moment. I had worked hard on my bowling and my fitness in the lockdown," the Bengal pacer said.

India enter the Test series with positive vibes, having beaten Australia last time around in 2018-19, but the presence of David Warner, Steven Smith and the emergence of Marnus Labuschagne makes it a compelling contest. Shami though isn't too worried about the big names in the host camp and emphasised on the quality of the Indian attack to face the challenge. "Our fast bowling group can bowl at 140 kph plus and you need that kind of pace in Australia. Even our reserves are quick, you don't get to see that kind of an attack," he said.

"We thrive on challenges. We have the experience. We have variety in our spin bowling attack too. We can bowl fast but we are all different, our skills are different. India have quality batsmen and we bowl at them in the nets. We don't look at names, we focus on our skills. You can be a world-class batsman, but one good ball will still get you out," Shami further added.