Shahbaz Nadeem handed debut in Ranchi Test: Jharkhand spinner’s 15-year old domestic career finally yields the desired result.
“He [Shahbaz Nadeem] was in Kolkata a couple of days back, now he’s playing a Test, delighted for him,” India captain Virat Kohli was quoted as saying at the toss during the third Test against South Africa in Ranchi.
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) October 19, 2019
Life, you see, has this peculiar way of making an individual wait for years to achieve a particular goal and then gift-wrapping him the same goal in the most unexpected manner. Among millions of people who have waited for years to attain something in life is 30-year old Jharkhand spinner Shahbaz Nadeem.
A small anecdote related to the Irani Trophy in January 2017 confirms the same. Playing for Rest of India against Gujarat, Nadeem bowled 29 overs (for 64 runs and four wickets) in the second innings after Gujarat had secured a 132-run lead on the morning of Day 3.
— Hemang Badani (@hemangkbadani) October 19, 2019
The left-arm spinner was seen continually bowling from one end of the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai. It is worth mentioning that it was the time when Nadeem was dismissing anyone and everyone in the Indian domestic circuit. Therefore, the onus of running through Gujarat’s lineup was once again on him.
Only second bowler to dismiss 50+ batsmen in Ranji Trophy twice
Coming on the back of being the highest wicket-taker in Ranji Trophy for two consecutive seasons in 2015-16 and 2016-17 (107 wickets in 19 matches including nine five-wicket hauls), the left-arm orthodox spinner was expected to not just bowl from one end but to represent India in the nearest future.
Kuldeep Yadav, the other specialist spinner in the squad, had bowled only five overs for 23 runs in the second innings and was majorly seen fielding at deep square leg from the end Nadeem was bowling. Despite Kuldeep in the side, it wasn’t appalling at all why Nadeem was preferred over him.
With Gujarat scoring 227/8 in 79 overs (at a run rate of less than three) on Day 3, there was a phase when nothing much was happening and the only thing constant was Nadeem bowling from an end.
Forward to March 2017…
Within a couple of months of the aforementioned incident, Kuldeep was handed a Test debut against Australia in Dharamsala while the senior spinner continued to pick wickets in domestic cricket. While the number of wickets picked by Kuldeep in domestic tournaments was nowhere near Nadeem but his rare art of chinaman worked for him.
That being said, imagine the plight of someone who didn’t get to a play a home Test (out of 13) despite emerging as the best bowler on paper. What more can one really do? While India have handed debut to as many as half-a-dozen spinners across formats since the start of 2016, Nadeem not being one of them until this day is out and out unfortunate.
Shahbaz Nadeem handed debut in Ranchi Test
While life’s peculiar way has been talked about, Nadeem’s hard-earned gift-wrapped maiden Test call-up was announced last night after Kuldeep was ruled out of the third Test against South Africa in Ranchi due to shoulder pain.
— BCCI (@BCCI) October 19, 2019
Nadeem receiving a Test cap upon returning from Alur (to Kolkata, his residence) after representing Jharkhand in the league stage of the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy with minimal returns (five wickets in eight matches) would have been the last way Nadeem could have thought of representing India for the first time.
The fact that Nadeem has replaced Kuldeep nearly 33 months after the Irani Trophy match in 2017 tells how life gives a second chance to everyone. The same happening in front of Nadeem’s home crowd at the JSCA International Stadium Complex out of all the places throws light on no one but destiny being the greatest script writer ever.