MUMBAI: If you understand what rhythm means in pace bowling, you will know it when you see bowlers like Mohammed Shami at work. Nice, equal strides, hands pumping next to each other and then the load up, with the front hand going up and the right hand, with solid wrists, releasing the ball with perfect seam position 101 times out of 100. Shami’s relentless 5-18 vs Sri Lanka at the Wankhede on Thursday showed that he was in rhythm.
He did not train on either of the optional practice days before the game and chose to rest.If you have taken 14 wickets in three games in thisWorld Cup at an average of 6.71, getting a wicket every 9.4 balls, you don’t need to.

World Cup 2023: India crush Sri Lanka, become first team to qualify for semifinals

On Thursday, Shami bagged his third five-for in 40 days, all in winning causes and became the highest wicket-taker for India in World Cups (45), surpassing Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan (44 wickets). After 13 balls on Thursday, he had figures of 4-1.
A soft-spoken man, Shami used a violent word like ‘storm’ in his chat with the broadcasters while accepting the player of the match award, when he described the effect India’s bowling unit has on opponents.

“All the hard work we are putting in, the rhythm we have found, it’s because of that that you are getting to see this storm. Everyone is enjoying and happy with each other’s success and more importantly, we are bowling as a unit and hence you see the results. I always try to bowl in good areas and be in good rhythm. In big tournaments, once the rhythm goes away, it’s very tough to get it back,” he stated matter-of-factly.
Shami invariably attacks the stumps to get wickets and pitches the ball up. A few on the up boundaries won’t make him change plans. Hence, you will see the odd expensive spell. Not in this World Cup though, where the movement he has got from a length has defied geometry. Ben Stokes (Lucknow), Angelo Mathews (Mumbai) will testify.
And there is simply no let up after he is through a spell. At the other end, batters see Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj.

Former Sri Lanka batter and current batting coach Naveed Nawaz was fulsome in praise of the Indian attack. Having experienced three sub-100 collapses to them in 2023 (Trivandrum, Colombo, and Mumbai), Nawaz said, “Bumrah, Siraj, and of course Shami. They’re very skillful. They always get the batsman to play, and the stumps are always attacked. They can swing the ball both ways. It may be one of the best bowling attacks for India in recent times.”
‘Surreal’ performance
Indian batter Shreyas Iyer, who scored a dazzling 82 to beef up the team total to 357 sounded relieved that he doesn’t have to face Bumrah, Shami and Siraj. “Looking at today’s bowling and the previous game, we are lucky not to play against them,” he said and labelled Thursday’s performance as “surreal”.
Siraj, Shami’s partner-in-crime with Bumrah, explained the teamwork among the pacers and credited the camaraderie for the dividends the team is reaping. “You are seeing how we are complementing each other. If Shami bhai is not getting wickets early on, I try and take them, if I can’t, then Jassi bhai takes them. We have good conversations with each other about what the pitch is doing and what areas to bowl in,” he told media persons in the mixed zone.

If you have followed Indian cricket closely, in sub-continental conditions, one has seen the fast bowling flayed after the first few spells. Rohit Sharma, in this World Cup, has been blessed to have skilled bowlers at his disposal who he can call upon to either get a breakthrough, or kill the opposition. He showered praise on the bowlers and especially Siraj during his chat with broadcasters. “Siraj is a quality bowler and if he makes the new ball talk consistently, things look different for us. He has got a lot of skills when he is operating with the new ball.”
One has rarely seen Rohit walk up to the bowlers to tell them what he wants and right now the seamers seem to be on auto pilot. “If there is something in the conditions, they are quite lethal.”
Bowling out five teams in seven games proves that.

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