Shahbaz Nadeem is another Muslim player ready to add feather in Indian cricket’s cap

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Nadeem has been a consistent performer in domestic cricket for several years and has the distinction of claiming more than 50 wickets in consecutive Ranji Trophy seasons, in 2015-16 and 2016-17. He has snapped up 424 wickets in 110 first-class matches and did well against South Africa A at home last month, with eight wickets in two matches at 16.75.

“It was a dream debut for me; playing my first Test in Ranchi. The crowd here respects me and cheers for me and that’s a great feeling,” Nadeem said.

Nadeem was only 15 when he started playing Ranji Trophy cricket for Jharkhand. The next five years, he went through the motions before finally starting to understand how to bowl in days cricket. “My experience of playing first-class cricket for 15 years has helped me immensely,” he said.

Nadeem got Temba Bavuma out stumped for his maiden Test wicket before trapping Anrich Nortje in front for his second wicket of the match. On the field, he chased the ball with childlike excitement and even accounted for George Linde in the second innings, with a direct hit at the bowler’s end from the square leg; the sheer exhilaration of playing his first Test abundantly evident from his keenness on the field.

“When you play cricket for as long as I have, if someone calls you at 4 am and tells you that there’s a match in two hours, you will still make it to the ground,” Nadeem said in jest when asked how he reacted to the news of his call-up 24 hours before the start of the match.

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