"Shami abused me and started beating me, even after returning from South Africa. He has been doing this for quite some time now and now I have had enough. I gave him enough time (to rectify mistakes) and tried to calm myself down but instead of accepting his own mistakes, he would vent his anger on me and even threaten me, asking to keep mum for my own good. I tried to convince myself for the sake of my family and daughter but he kept on harassing me and when I found those obscene chats with multiple women, all hell broke loose. I cannot tolerate this anymore and I have decided to take legal action with all the available evidence."
That was the bomb from his wife Hasin Jahan that promised to blow India fast bowler Mohammed Shami to shreds last year, at least metaphorically.
It surprised many of us. Some of us with a good memory immediately remembered the ordeal that Shami had to go through shortly after their marriage when he appeared in a photo with Hasin, who was dressed a little too liberally. Muslim hardliners had come down real hard on him for bringing his wife out in the public domain dressed inappropriately — without the burqa.
Shami braved it all with great heroism and stood by Hasin to the great admiration of many. Feminists/liberals were never happier!
But the same wife brought his world down in early 2018 with allegations of epic proportions. At first it appeared just some petty issue between husband and wife but with time it took on the colour of "bloody fight to the end".
Hasin's allegations appeared to foreshadow the end of Shami, India's second highest wicket-taker in the 2015 World Cup.
Within a matter of days, another bomb by Hasin was thrown at Shami, hinting at his possible involvement in match-fixing.
"Alishba is a Pakistani citizen and Shami claimed that she gave him money. I have never been told by Shami for what purpose that money was given. I don't know but if he can fraud me he can fraud the country too," Hasin said.
Nobody knows what really happened. But since nothing came of allegations by way of proof and all that, slowly the tide started to turn in Shami's favour. "Not guilty until proven in a court of law" prevailed. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) took stock of it and looking at the sensitivity of the matter decided not to include him in its annual retainers' list at first. However, in the absence of any credible proof that substantiated Hasin's allegations, it exonerated Shami and brought him back to the fold.
The media outlets were reporting relentlessly as Hasin kept levelling one charge after another. Even after the BCCI's exoneration, Shami's career appeared as good as over. Considering the magnitude of the controversy he was not going to get many chances to stay relevant as an international cricketer. The clock had begun to tick for Shami.
Cut to October 2019, Shami has gone ahead beyond relevance. He has taken 51 wickets in 14 Tests since India's tour of South Africa in 2017-18, including two five-fors: one in Australia (6/56) and one in India recently against South Africa when he reverse swung to great effect to capture 5/35 and help India to a thumping win.
During this period, Ishant Sharma took 46 wickets in 13 Tests and Jasprit Bumrah snared 48 wickets in 9 Tests. While Bumrah has undeniably been the most potent force, Shami's performance can't be turned a blind eye to. In patches, he has been unplayable like Bumrah. The fears that the Indians will struggle in the fast-bowling department against the Proteas in the absence of the injured Bumrah were laid to rest after the way Shami bowled in the second innings of the Vizag Test.
In the World Cup earlier this year, Shami took 14 wickets in just 4 games, including a hat-trick against Afghanistan which made him only the second Indian after Chetan Sharma to claim a World Cup three-in-three. Among Indian bowlers, he was only behind Bumrah who played five more games for 18 wickets.
Fitness-wise, Shami has never been in better shape. At present, he is as important a member as any in the team. He has indeed come a long way since the disruption that appeared to plague his life no end.
Indian fans could be very generous with praise when players perform but if performances don’t come by and there are controversies to boot, they could turn cold-hearted and hostile overnight, baying for blood on end. Without resilience and character, Shami would have been long forgotten.