Mohammed Shami took five of the eight wickets that fell on the final day to hand India a 203-run victory over South Africa in the first Test match at Visakhapatnam on Sunday.
Such was the fiery nature of his pace on the day that four of his five wickets were cleaned bowled, including breaking one stump in half, making the 29-year-old almost unplayable as he ended with figures of 5/35 in just 10.5 overs for his fifth career fifer.
"It's difficult to bowl on such a wicket because it was getting slower," Shami pointed out. "So the plan was to bowl at the stumps. (Ravindra Jadeja) Jaddu and (Ravichandran Ashwin) Ash bowled well. We knew variable bounce and reverse swing would help us in the second innings. So we tried to attack the stumps.
"It was important to get the top batters out as early as possible," he added.
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It didn't take too long. Chasing an improbable 395 to win, Temba Bavuma was the first to fall in the just the third over of the day and Faf du Plessis followed 10 overs later. Quinton de Kock didn't last long either as he fell in Shami's subsequent over as South Africa were reduced to 60/5 with all the three batsmen clean bowled.
The visitors were unravelling as a result and soon found themselves at 70/8 before a 91-run stand between Senuran Muthusamy and Dane Piedt saved them from the blushes. Shami was brought back into the attack to end the partnership, as he bowled out top-scorer Piedt for 56 and then had Kagiso Rabada caught behind to bundle South Africa out for 191 and hand India the win.
Shami on 🔥🔥🔥#INDvSA pic.twitter.com/nruaPwW1kt— BCCI (@BCCI) October 6, 2019
"Shami has been a strike bowler for us in the second innings consistently now," hailed captain Virat Kohli. "If you see all his four-five-wicket hauls, they come in the second innings invariably when the team needs it, the ball is reversing a bit, that's his strength."
Shami's fellow Kings XI Punjab teammates from the VIVO Indian Premier League too were instrumental in the match, with Mayank Agarwal scoring a double hundred and Ashwin picking up seven wickets in the first innings.
But it was Rohit Sharma who took the Man of the Match award for his ton in each innings of the match. He too, however, acknowledged Shami's incisiveness on the day.
"We have seen (Shami) in these conditions not just today but earlier also," Sharma pointed out. "I still remember our debut together in Kolkata (2013), where the pitch was not exactly like this but on day four and five, it was slightly lower and slower.
"He knows how to bowl on these pitches, gets reverse swing straight into play once he knows there is some help on offer."
Sharma added that it wasn't easy to bowl when reverse swing comes into practice, which Shami's performance stand out even more.
"You need to pitch in the right areas, need to make sure the ball is just around the off-stump and it comes and hits the middle-stump," Sharma explained. "Shami has mastered that art now, bowling with the old ball and getting it to reverse."
"Yes, these type of conditions are pretty ideal for him. He makes them play all the balls and it's tough for the batsmen on a pitch like this, where the ball was doing something from the cracks. It keeps you in the game. The batsmen don’t know which way it will reverse swing. I would say he has mastered how to bowl with the old ball," he concluded.