Despite his consistent performances in first-class level Shahbaz Nadeem has been out of the reckoning but he promises to continue with his good work and make the cut once again to be India's reliable bowling all-rounder. He last featured in a Test, playing against South Africa in Ranchi this year.
With a state like Jharkhand, you don’t associate yourself to see a new talent every day. It was of no surprise that Jharkhand had a real crisis of matchwinners and Nadeem with his left-arm orthodox bowling and gritty batting contributions was named in the Ranji side when he was merely 15.
"When I started first-class cricket, I was just 15. When you are young, you don't understand how you are taking wickets. You are bowling well and you start getting wickets," he confirmed.
Nearly a decade of average performance followed after his debut in 2004 after which Nadeem’s time finally seemed to have arrived. In 2012-13 Ranji Trophy, he picked 42 wickets at an average of less than 26 and climbed to the fourth spot in the wicket-takers list. His performance was monumental in taking his side ahead of the group stage. The 2015-16 season saw him end with 51 wickets at an average of 19.62. And then 56 more wickets followed the next season which made him only the second bowler to bag more than 50 wickets in consecutive seasons of Ranji Trophy.
"The bowling stays the same. A lot of people have helped me but I don't accept the advice immediately. When I don't get wickets, I'll turn to them. Till the time I am getting wickets, I'll stick to what I have. Everyone can't be perfect. I can't be perfect. I can't have the perfect action. You look at Bishan Singh Bedi sir. He had a classic action. I can't be perfect like him. However, I can be Shahbaz Nadeem and I can be good at it," he affirmed.
In spite of his consistent performances, he was never considered a more credible option than the likes of Ravindra Jadeja. His frustration crept in till he realised that was only hampering him.
"I admit. I used to get too desperate. It just came from inside that I have to break open the door. Can you fault me for that?" he asks. "And then it struck me that I was hurting myself and people close to me. Selectiontoh aa jayega (selection will happen).
"But I've realised that you have to be patient. You have to keep coming hard. The desperation has reduced and I am more at peace now. Six months ago, I was very desperate. I wanted to know about everything. About what's going wrong. I wanted to know what else I can do."
The 30-year-old is optimistic about his chances of making the cut through to the Indian side and be there for a time to make a name for himself. He promises to be grinding his way out and keep the selectors’ at check with his performances.
"For India, aaj khilao, kal khilao, ya char saal baad khilao,I will still be here. It's just that I am stubborn.Ab toh aur bhi," he promised. (For India, you play me today, tomorrow, or even after four years, I will still be here. It's just that I am stubborn. Even more now).
Nadeem has represented India in only one Test during this year’s home series against South Africa where he came in as a replacement to Ishant Sharma when the pacer was rested and the spinner did well to pick up 4 wickets in the match giving away just 40 runs.
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