Photo: Cricket World Cup/Twitter

With razor sharp accuracy and precise line and length, pacer Mohammed Shami was a constant bane for the English batsmen at Birmingham, as he managed to pick up his first ever One Day International fifer.

With another splendid display, the 29-year-old became India’s leading wicket-taker at the 2019 ICC World Cup, despite playing just three games. The Kings XI Punjab player now has 30 wickets in 10 games in this multi-nation tournament, at a staggering bowling average of 13.97. His career-best 5/69 took him past Jasprit Bumrah and Yuzvendra Chahal, who have picked up 10 wickets each in their six matches so far.

He was the leading wicket-taker in the previous World Cup with 17 scalps in just seven matches, going wicketless just once. And the 29-year-old has managed to be the nation’s wicket-taking messiah all while maintaining an economy rate of under five.

In comparison, the likes of Kapil Dev and Ashish Nehra, who have been India’s key bowlers in previous World Cups, could manage only 23 and 18 scalps respectively after having played two tournaments. Only Zaheer Khan and Javagal Srinath have had more success for India in World Cup games when compared to Shami; and both those players featured in more games than the KXIP speedster.

In the 2019 World Cup, Shami got his first foray in the game against Afghanistan when Bhuvneshwar Kumar got injured; and impressed immediately with a last over hat-trick that helped his side clinch a thriller. He followed that up another four-wicket haul, picking 4/16 against West Indies before claiming his maiden five-wicket haul on Sunday.

In the process, Shami becomes only the second Indian bowler ever after Narendra Hirwani to claim three successive four-fers. He also set a record of having the most ever four-plus wicket spells in World Cup history for an Indian with four.

Despite having played less than a dozen World Cup matches, Mohammed Shami has proved to be one of the most consistent and valuable assets in the tournament. He has formed a fiery partnership with fellow pacer Jasprit Bumrah, maintaining pressure on the opposition with their consistent line and length.

Shami has also been Virat Kohli’s go to man whenever the side have required a breakthrough. With his astonishing strike rate and incredible World Cup record, Shami could just be that key link if India are to claim the crown in 2019.