Jharkhand spinner Shahbaz Nadeem has been repeatedly ignored by the Indian selectors despite having to perform outstandingly in the domestic circuit. But the 27-year-old remains positive about an India call-up as the current selection committee has assured him that he will be rewarded soon.
Nadeem is the leading wicket-taker in Ranji Trophy for the past two years but he could not make his place yet in the Team India. On the other hand, his fellow players during the same period Jayant Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal and Parvez Rasool have made the India squad across formats.
He also ended as the leading wicket-taker (15 wickets in 8 matches) for Jharkhand in the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2016-17. Despite being repeatedly overlooked, MSK Prasad-led selection panel have been communicating with the spinner regularly.
Nadeem told PTI, “I was very disappointed, to be honest, but ever since this selection panel took charge, I have started hoping again. All the members including MSK sir communicate regularly. It was not the case earlier. It is a very welcome change. With this approach, at least you know where you stand. They have told me that my time will come so I will just keeping working hard.”
The left-arm spinner, who has played 83 first-class, matches after making his debut as a 15-year-old in 2004. Nadeem added, “It is not that I have made too many changes in the last two years and therefore the performance has gone up. It is just that I have matured as a bowler, have started to read the batsman’s mind better. There is a lot of difference in match preparation as well. So you can say all these factors have contributed to my growth.”
He further added, “I just want to play for India. As you have seen, I have taken wickets in all formats. And I still continue to use variations whenever I can but at core, I will always remain someone who likes to give the ball air and mix it with the odd faster one. The other big change in me is that I have learnt to bowl on different surfaces.”
The Bokaro-born spinner lauded former Indian captain MS Dhoni, who recently led Jharkhand to semifinals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy, for his constant inputs to him and his state teammates, “I have known Dhoni Bhai for a long time. We have played U-25 together. He has not changed one bit since those days, remaining as humble as ever despite achieving so much. When players spend time with him, while it’s travelling, dressing room or in the team hotel, it gives them a huge push.”
Nadeem further added, “He is available 24/7. Anyone of us can go and talk to him anytime. I too talk to him about the game but I never talk to him about my chances of playing for India. He just says one thing that I must keep improving and leave the rest to the selectors. And that is what I try to do.”