Mohammed Shami’s five hicket haul slings India towards a victory in the Vizag Test.

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As India went into day five of the first Test against South Africa at Vizag, their biggest hopes rested on their spinners. With the declaration coming a tad late and South African batsmen showing immense character in the first innings, India were in danger of conceding a draw from a position they could have won easily.

But it was Mohammed Shami who came out of syllabus for the Proteas on day five at Vizag. The hit the deck seamer accounted for the wickets of Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock – all bowled – and finished with five wickets in the innings. After a resilient ninth wicket stand, it was Shami again who came back to dismantle the Proteas by picking up the last two wickets.

We often talk about Shami taking too much time to warm up to Test matches. This is in fact reflected well in his numbers across both innings. In the first innings of Tests, Shami averages 34.47 and strikes every 61st ball on an average. In the second innings, though, the average drops to a stunning 22.58 and the strike rate is 41.4. Four of his five five-wicket hauls have also come in the second innings of matches.

Shami in Tests - innings by innings

Team Innings

Mat

Wkts

Ave

SR

5w haul

1st team innings

43

78

34.47

60.6

1

2nd team innings

40

80

22.58

41.4

4

It is, however, useful to dig further and split up Shami’s performance in each innings of a Test. While he generally thrives in the third and fourth innings’, his record shows that he is a beast when it comes to the final innings.

Shami in Tests - innings by innings

Team Innings

Mat

Wkts

Ave

SR

5w haul

1st match innings

18

36

36.16

62.8

1

2nd match innings

25

42

33.02

58.7

0

3rd match innings

22

41

25.31

46.1

2

4th match innings

18

39

19.71

36.4

2

A fourth innings average of 19.7 is his best across any innings while his strike rate of 36.4 is a far cry from his first innings strike rate of 62.8.

That he has been doing an outstanding job for India even with them having the towering presence of two spinners who can run through teams in the final innings shows Shami’s worth.

In fact, it isn’t just for India that Shami stands out.

Take out numbers of pacers who have done well in the fourth innings since Shami’s debut and everyone else comes behind the Indian seamer in terms of wickets taken. Shami has 39 wickets in 18 matches since his debut at an average of 19.71. Kagiso Rabada comes a close second with 36 wickets but the average is a touch higher. Stuart Broad and James Anderson, Ishant Sharma and Mitchell Starc are few other contemporaries to excel in this final innings but it is to Shami’s credit that he tops this list.

Most fourth innings wickets since Shami's debut for pacers

Player

Mat

Wickets

Ave

SR

5

Mohammed Shami (INDIA)

18

39

19.71

36.4

2

K Rabada (SA)

15

36

21.08

35.8

3

SCJ Broad (ENG)

30

33

30.03

65.1

0

MG Johnson (AUS)

13

33

18.3

38.2

2

JM Anderson (ENG)

26

32

23.87

60.8

0

I Sharma (INDIA)

19

32

23.53

50.3

1

MA Starc (AUS)

15

32

22.28

41.2

2

TG Southee (NZ)

18

29

26.75

56.4

0

TA Boult (NZ)

17

28

27.42

53.4

1

Feature image courtesy: AFP/ Noah Saleem