Shahbaz Nadeem has revealed that MS Dhoni asked him to stay away from too many experiments and simply focus on continuing his current approach during their chat after the third Test in Ranchi. Nadeem picked up four wickets on his debut for India as they beat South Africa by an innings and 202 runs.
After 111 first-class matches and 106 List A appearances, the 30-year-old from Jharkhand had finally received the call-up to represent India. And at the end of it all, it was well worth the wait, as Shahbaz put all his domestic experience to use and produced two fine spells against the Proteas. After the match in Ranchi, India’s legendary ex-skipper Dhoni paid the team a visit to their dressing room and got chatting with the left-arm spinner. Incidentally, Dhoni was the one keeping wickets when Shahbaz made his first-class debut in 2004 against Kerala in Jamshedpur.
"I met him (Dhoni) after the match. I asked him, 'Mahi Bhai how did I do?' He said, 'Shahbaz, you have matured now. I was watching you bowl. There is a maturity in your bowling now. That is because of your domestic experience. Just don’t experiment too much and play the way you have been playing. Your journey has started, Shahbaz.' We chatted about our journeys," Nadeem told TimesofIndia.com.
Nadeem further revealed the circumstances prior to his call-up, a decision made by the team due to a shoulder injury picked up by Kuldeep Yadav. The left-arm spinner had 24 hours to pack his bags and travel by road from Kolkata to Ranchi to fulfil his long-cherished dream.
"The wait was long but the result was sweet. I got the call just a day before the Ranchi Test. I was included as a back-up spinner. I didn’t have a clue that I will be making a Test debut for my country. I packed my bags and left for Ranchi. I reached late at night,” Nadeem said.
"When I woke up the next morning, after travelling for hours, Virat (Kohli) came and said you are playing today. I was surprised and delighted too. I was so happy when he handed the debut cap to me on the ground. It was a dream come true for me. My hard work had paid off. It will always be a memorable moment for me," he said.
In the end, the script couldn’t have been written any better for Nadeem, especially given his role in India’s mammoth win to seal the series 3-0. Playing in front of his home crowd, he dismissed Temba Bavuma and Anrich Nortje in South Africa's first innings and then removed Theunis de Bruyn and Lungi Ngidi in one over in the second innings.
"I am happy with the way I performed. I waited for a long time for this opportunity and when I finally got it, I wanted to make every bit counts. I used all my domestic cricket experience," he added.
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