What MS Dhoni told Shahbaz Nadeem after Test series win against South Africa
- Shahbaz Nadeem had 24 hours to pack his bags and travel from Kolkata to Ranchi
- Shahbaz was drafted into the India squad for the third Test vs South Africa after Kuldeep Yadav picked up a shoulder injury
- Playing in front of his home crowd, Shahbaz took four wickets in the third Test
NEW DELHI: As per his daily routine, Shahbaz Nadeem entered his room, put his phone on silent mode, kept it on the bed and got ready to offer his daily prayers. After finishing, he laid down on the bed and began checking his phone. There were a couple of unread messages and missed calls. He read the messages and was stunned. The messages were about his India Test call-up.
The left-arm spinner had 24 hours to pack his bags and travel from Kolkata to Ranchi. His long-cherished dream was about to come true.
Shahbaz, who was drafted into the India squad for the third Test vs South Africa after Kuldeep Yadav picked up a shoulder injury, travelled from Kolkata to Ranchi by road.
"The wait was long but the result was sweet,” Shahbaz told Timesofindia.com in an exclusive interview after India's mammoth innings and 202 run win in the third and final Test .
"I got the call just a day before the Ranchi Test. I was included as a back-up spinner. I didn’t have a clue that I will be making a Test debut for my country. I packed my bags and left for Ranchi. I reached late at night,” Shahbaz said.
"When I woke up the next morning, after travelling for hours, Virat (Kohli) came and said you are playing today. I was surprised and delighted too. I was so happy when he handed the debut cap to me on the ground. It was a dream come true for me. My hard work had paid off. It will always be a memorable moment for me," Shahbaz told TimesofIndia.com.
Playing in front of his home crowd, Shahbaz took four wickets in the third Test.
He dismissed Temba Bavuma and Anrich Nortje in South Africa's first innings and then removed Theunis de Bruyn and Lungi Ngidi in the second innings.
The 30-year-old from Jharkhand had to wait a very long time to wear the India cap. He made his First Class debut in 2004 against Kerala in Jamshedpur. He has played 111 First Class games.
"I am happy with the way I performed. I waited for a long time for this opportunity and when I finally got it, I wanted to make every bit counts," the left-arm spinner said.
"I used all my domestic cricket experience," Shahbaz, who has also played 106 List A matches, said.
One big talking point of the Ranchi Test on Day 4, when India wrapped up the big win was former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni paying the Indian team a visit.
Shahbaz and Dhoni, who have featured in the same eleven a number of times for Jharkhand, were seen chatting with each other after the match. The BCCI in fact also tweeted a photo of the two cricketers.
Look who's here 😍 https://t.co/whS24IK4Ir— BCCI (@BCCI) 1571720734000
"I met him (Dhoni) after the match. I asked him, 'Mahi bhai how did I do?' He said, 'Shahbaz, you have matured now. I was watching you bowl. There is a maturity in your bowling now. That is because of your domestic experience. Just don’t experiment too much and and play the way you have been playing. Your journey has started, Shahbaz.' We chatted about our journeys," the left-arm spinner told TimesofIndia.com.
On being asked, on a lighter note, what his reaction would be if Dhoni hadn't retired from the longest format of the game in 2014 and featured in the same eleven as him, in his debut match, Shahbaz, with a big smile on his face, said: "That would have doubled my happiness. We have played a lot of cricket for Jharkhand together. Featuring in the same playing eleven for India would have been really really great".
"He (MS Dhoni) is in the league of greats but is still very grounded. That’s Dhoni for you," Shahbaz signed off.