Underlining the significance of reverse-swing, India pace spearhead Mohammed Shami has admitted that the unique art is one of his primary weapons in his bowling arsenal and insisted that he constantly strives to execute it to perfection.
"There is a different joy in bowling reverse swing," Shami told bcci.tv. "The old ball is one of my main weapons and I am comfortable bowling with the old ball. I know if I can get a hint of reverse swing, I can use it to good effect."
Considered as one of the best exponents of reverse swing bowling, the 26-year-old admitted that getting the bowl to reverse proved vital in removing New Zealand batsmen BJ Watling and Mark Craig in quick succession in the opening Test match in Kanpur, which India won by 197 runs.
"The moment I start getting the ball to reverse, I get back to one of my bowling strong points. I love bowling reverse swing. When the ball is reversing I try to get the batsman out bowled or get him LBW. These two are the mode of dismissals that you get with reverse swing. When I get a feel that it is going to help reverse swing I look to hit the top of off-stump maximum number of times or else I aim at the batsman's pad. Both these factors happened today against Watling and Craig," he said while assessing his performance.
After resisting against a persistent Indian bowling line-up in the first hour of play, Luke Ronchi (80) lost concentration minutes after drinks as Ravindra Jadeja, who was adjudged the Player of the Match, managed to break the tourists' stand when the batsman mistimed a flatter delivery and was caught at point by Ravichandran Ashwin.
While Santner along with Watling looked set to stitch up another solid partnership, playing watchfully against the Ashwin-Jadeja spin attack, Shami provided the hosts with the much-needed breakthrough with two quick scalps.
Needing 229 to win the match, New Zealand failed to hold the fort as they could only add 31 runs more after the lunch as Ashwin removed the tail-enders with ease.
Explaining the process in getting the ball ready for reverse swing, Shami said, "There is a lot of work behind getting the ball to reverse swing. It is like team effort, every member of the team makes it a point to keep the ball dry at all times and maintain it throughout the day. There are times when you will get reverse swing but if it gets wet, you won't be able to execute swing perfectly because the ball will tend to get heavy."
Despite producing an encouraging performance against West Indies in July during his first Test series after an agonising 18-month injury layoff, it wasn't until the final day of the Kanpur Test that Shami really looked in his elements.
"While bowling, consistency and accuracy is very important for reverse swing. If you bowl too full you will go for runs or too much at the back of the length, you won't be able to get swing. As a bowler you have to pitch in the right area and maintain that line and length which is very important to get the reverse swing right. I constantly work hard to get my lines right to execute reverse swing well," he added.