Let's celebrate: India captain Rohit Sharma celebrates with Mohammed Shami after winning the semi-final against New Zealand in Mumbai
Ahmedabad (India) (AFP) - India captain Rohit Sharma on Saturday praised senior fast bowler Mohammed Shami for a spectacular renaissance at the World Cup after being ignored for the first four matches.
The hosts take on Australia in the final in Ahmedabad on Sunday with Shami on top of the tournament bowling chart, taking 23 wickets in six matches.
The veteran Shami, 33, came into the side after an injury to all-rounder Hardik Pandya and soon made an impact with a five-wicket haul against New Zealand in Dharamsala.
There was no looking back for Shami, who remains India’s most experienced fast bowler in a pack which includes Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj.
He hammered home his importance with a return of 7-57 in the semi-final against New Zealand in Mumbai.
“It was tough for him to not play the initial part of the World Cup, looking at him being one of the senior bowlers for us,” said Rohit.
“But he was there for the team. He was there to help Siraj, he was there to help Bumrah in whatever way he could. And that shows the quality of him, being the team man that he is.”
“The results are there for everyone to see how he has come back from that. That shows the kind of mental space that Shami had before the World Cup and now.”
Shami has claimed 194 wickets in 100 ODIs for India since his debut in 2013.
India have lived up to their billing of pre-tournament favourites with a clinical show in all departments of the game.
Virat Kohli leads the batting charge with 711 runs; Rohit is in fifth place with 550.
But it’s the bowlers who have come in for the captain’s lavish praise for keeping opposition teams in check in a high-scoring tournament where 300-plus totals have been racked up 25 times in 47 matches.
New Zealand are the only team to have scored more than 300 runs against India.
That came in the semi-final but the Black Caps still went down by 70 runs.
“The bowlers have done a great job for us in this tournament,” said Rohit.
“When we started off, we were chasing in the first four or five games and to restrict teams below 300 in Indian conditions was a great effort. It’s not been easy. But our seamers and the spinners did that perfectly.”