New Delhi: Mohammed Shami has had a career plagued with injuries, the worse of which kept India's premier fast bowler out of cricket for almost a year following the 2015 World Cup. But he is back now and bowled fighting fit in the last Test he played at Delhi in the recently concluded series against Sri Lanka. A tough assignment, though, awaits the 27-year-old in South Africa where India will need him at the top of his form in a three-Test series, followed by limited-overs internationals.
India have never won a Test series in South Africa. However, the team under captain Virat Kohli has enjoyed unprecedented success, which should give them the confidence to do well out of the subcontinent as well. And Shami promises that India will be "fearless" in that pursuit to start 2018 on a bright note.
The Indian batsmen will be in for a test against the Proteas' pace attack led by Dale Steyn, who made a comeback in the inaugural four-day Test in Port Elizabeth, which the hosts won inside two days.
Before that match, Steyn made a statement that was seemingly intended to intimidate the Indian camp.
"The batsmen will know that it’s (pace of 150kmph) there, and I’m able to take their feet away, hit them in the head, whatever. The rest of the time I’ve always relied on skill: relentless line and length, trying to knock guys over and just being smart," Steyn had said.
In an interview to xtratime.in, Shami said anyone can say anything but Team India "doesn't fear anybody" and is ready to deliver.
"Not only Steyn, anybody can say anything or write anything," Shami told the website.
"We are only eyeing to give our 100 percent and I just want to (make it) clear that the team doesn’t fear anybody and we are ready for the counter-punch. We have played fearless cricket in the last couple of years and we will do the same on our coming tour too," the Indian paceman said.
But not just Indian batting, the tour will also test the skill and temperament of Indian bowlers, especially fast bowlers, who often get carried away seeing juice in wickets outside the subcontinent.
Shami will be part of a pack of five pacers on tour, alongside Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah, who has received his maiden Test call-up. Besides, the Indian squad also includes seam-up allrounder Hardik Pandya.
But Shami didn't want to reveal his cards on the strategy front.
"I don’t tell anything regarding this matter (strategy) in front of the media. I just want to say we must avoid short (pitch) bowling against them, as they always play on bouncy wickets from the very first day of their career.
"They are very good players of the square-cut, pull and hook shot. (But) This time we have some different plans for them," Shami concluded.