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Super Over an indicator of how Mohammad Shami should bowl in the death

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Earlier this year when Australia toured India for a limited-overs series, Bhuvneshwar Kumar was injured, Jasprit Bumrah was finding his way back into the international stage after a stress fracture and the others were mostly inexperienced in the white ball setup. 

Virat Kohli turned to Mohammad Shami as the impact bowler in the series and he delivered on all fronts. In the second and third ODI of the series, Shami bowled as many as 12 yorkers, conceding just 6 runs off them and prizing out three wickets in the process. 

Not really a part of India's limited-overs setup, Shami played just five ODI games between the 2015 and 2019 World Cups. Shami was always seen as a new ball option and rarely in talks when death bowling was discussed. 

This was also because the typical death bowler in limited-overs cricket in the last couple of years could hit the yorkers, but also bowl knuckleballs, slower bouncers and other variations. 

Pace, movement off the seam and reverse swing were his primary skills and he added a pretty good yorker to the same. When your yorker is brilliant, there's hardly any need for a death bowler to focus on any other delivery because getting underneath the yorker is still the toughest ask when hitting a six.

On Sunday, as the game between Punjab and Mumbai went into a Super Over and Punjab made just five batting against Mumbai, the game was believed to be done and dusted. I mean, how hard could scoring six runs in six balls be if the bowler isn't Bumrah. 

And then Shami turned up. 

Much like the Super Over script has gone through the entire tournament, Shami nailed yorker after yorker and restricted Mumbai to five runs to make it to another Super Over. What unfolded next was dramatic of course, but let's focus on Shami.

Yorkers have been Shami's go-to weapon in the death overs. In the 2019 World Cup, in a close game against Afghanistan, bowling after a penultimate over from Bumrah, Shami kept hitting the yorker length in the final over to squeeze in a win. In the Australian series, he was again on the money. At the start of this Indian T20 League season for Punjab, Shami was completely off-colour in the death overs, trying to mix up his pace and bowl slower bouncers.

After 8.4 overs in the death (17-20 overs) this year in the tournament, Shami has an economy of 13.862 which is the second-worst after Chris Jordan for bowlers to have bowled 40 balls at least in this phase. 

He had bowled fewer yorkers, not banking upon the skill that indeed made him an enticing option in the death. All of that changed in the Super Over where he nailed five Yorkers and a low full toss, outbowling Bumrah himself.

If anything, the Super Over was an indicator of where and how Shami should be bowling in the death. It's worked for Kagiso Rabada and Jasprit Bumrah and it's working for Shami too. If only he would stick to it. 

Feature image courtesy: Twitter / Team Punjab

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