Over the last two-three seasons, right from the time we qualified for the first time. I”ve been hopeful of a call up, only to be disappointed: Well, all that a player can do is to perform in the matches he is selected to play and help his team win games.
Left-arm spinner, Shahbaz Nadeem, representing Jharkhand has done exactly the same. He has performed match after match and has collected heaps of wickets.
Featuring in 9 games (18 innings) for his state team in 2015-16 Ranji Trophy season, Nadeem picked up 51 wickets at an average of 19.62, economy of 2.84 with 7/45 and 11/90 being his best bowling performances in ‘an innings’ and in ‘a match’ respectively.
He followed up this performance with a haul of 56 wickets from 10 games (19 innings) in 2016-17season, at an average of 25.60, economy of 2.90 with 7/74 and 12/268 being his best individual performance in ‘an innings’ and in a ‘game’ respectively.
Shabaz has topped the ‘wicket takers’ list in the two respective seasons(2015-16 and 2016-17). He is only the second bowler in the history of Ranji Trophy to take 50+ wickets in two seasons. He had emulated the performance of the former Hyderabad off-spinner, Kanwaljit Singh, who achieved this feat in 1998-99 (51 wickets) and 1999-2000 (99 wickets) respectively.
The performance of Shabaz in the just concluded season (2016-17) also helped his team Jharkhand make their maiden entry into the semi-final. In the quarter final encounter against Haryana, Nadeem picked up 14 wickets (7/79 and 4/78) and also contributed with the bat scoring an unbeaten 34* runs in the first innings.
Making his First Class debut in 2004-05 season, the young Jharkhand spinner has featured in 82 games and has picked up 306 wickets at an average of 28.90, economy rate of 2.70 with 7/45 being his best performance in an innings.
Playing for India A against the touring England, in the ODI practice game, Nadeem picked up a couple of wickets giving away 41 runs.
He also has had reasonably good outings in IPL, turning in for Delhi Dareveils since the 2013 edition and has been ‘retained’ by the franchisee since then.
The numbers definitely ‘back up’ his case for a ‘call up’ to do national duty but somehow it seems to be eluding him.
“Over the last two-three seasons, right from the time we qualified [to the Ranji Elite group] for the first time, where I took 42 wickets, I”ve been hopeful of a call up, only to be disappointed. The chances will come sooner or later,” said Nadeem speaking to ESPNcricinfo.
“I have played each and every format and at each and every level, except for India. It is always on the back of my mind that when I finish, I should complete the set. It doesn”t matter if I play only one or two matches for India. The quest for the cap keeps driving me,” he added.
Possibly the ‘wise men’ in BCCI could have taken cognisance of Shabaz’s performances in the Ranji Trophy, atleast in the last two seasons and could have given the nod in his favour for the ongoing ‘limited over’ series against the touring English side.
This is more so in the wake of the fact that Ravindra Jadeja was to be ‘rested’ for the T20I series.
To ESNCricinfo he said, “Last year people were saying I was getting wickets only because of spinning tracks at home. The general perception is you get only spinning tracks in the East. It”s more satisfying now because at neutral venues(for Ranji Trophy), our captain or management don”t have anything to do with the pitch. If I keep doing this, somewhere down the line my chance will come.”
Hopefully, the selectors would have this youngster in their radar and hopefully his opportunity would come.