India vs West Indies: Shahbaz Nadeem can't wait to make late India entry count

Shahbaz Nadeem’s performances in domestic cricket have been consistently brilliant. In a 14-year first-class career, the left-arm spinner has played 99 matches, taking 375 wickets. The 29-year-old Jharkhand bowler was the top wicket-taker in the last two seasons of Ranji Trophy (51 in 2015-16, 56 in 2016-17). He also set a world record in List A cricket in September by claiming 8/10 against Rajasthan in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. He has tasted success in T20s too, taking 89 wickets in 109 matches at an economy rate of 6.77.

The dream of an India call-up that eluded Nadeem though has finally been fulfilled. He’s in the team for the ongoing T20 series against West Indies, which India have sealed 2-0 going into the final game here. Keeping in mind the 2020 World T20, India have handed debuts to all-rounder Krunal Pandya and left-arm fast bowler Khaleel Ahmed so far in the series and Nadeem could be the next in line on Sunday.

“I wasn’t that consistent in the early part of my career. But things have taken a turn (for the better) in the last 4-5 years,” Nadeem said in an interview.

“I feel I’m in a good head space about how I want to go about my bowling. Yes, it has been a long wait (for an India call-up), but it’s worth it. A couple of good performances from here on can change things quickly.”

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With Ravindra Jadeja back in the ODI team and wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal maintaining their dominance, the competition for the spinners’ slots is intense. Nadeem knows patience is the key.

“To compete with them (Jadeja, Kuldeep and Chahal), you have to be at your very best in whichever format you play. To be honest, it’s all about getting some opportunities. Whenever I get them, I will look to make the most of them. I know my time will come.”

Happy with selectors

Recently, Murali Vijay and Karun Nair spoke about the lack of communication between the selectors and players who have been dropped from the squad. Asked if he ever faced such a problem as he waited almost interminably for an India call-up, Nadeem said he had no issues.

“The communication is there. They keep telling me that I’m part of their plans. They have been a constant support and I’m really pleased with that.”

It also helps having as chief coach Ravi Shastri, a former India left-arm spinner. Has he given him any tips? Nadeem said: “The best part is he shows confidence in me. He talks about the release part and how I can vary my pace according to the conditions.”

First Published: Nov 10, 2018 12:05 IST