Pace spearhead Mohammed Shami returned with figures of 3/18 to help dismiss New Zealand for 108 and eventually help India win by eight wickets to clinch the series in the second One Day International at Raipur on Saturday.

Shami struck in the first over and with his fellow quicks had the tourists reeling at 15/5 by the 11th over. He had bowled Finn Allen off the fifth ball of the first over.

He and Hardik Pandya then took two wickets caught-and-bowled to further rattle the visitors. When Gelnn Phillips and Michael Bracewell attempted to rebuild and hit back with a 41-run sixth-wicket stand, Shami broke through again.

In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, the Indian seam bowlers have stepped up and starred individually and collectively. These are positive signs ahead of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup that is scheduled to be held at home later this year.

Talking about whether the Indian team was on the right track ahead of the mega-event, player of the match Shami said in the post-match press conference, “I don’t think people have any doubt around the Indian team. We have been giving good results in the past 4-6 years. If there still are doubts, we have a lot of time left for the World Cup. We have many series for match practice. We have more time to know players. We have time so it’s better to take it match-by-match.”

He added: “I personally prefer to play a match than practice. Because it is during the match that the reality becomes evident. It is better to play as many matches as possible ahead of a big tournament.

“In that regard, work management is important for all players, not just myself. And it is being carried out rather well for all players. The priority should be that our key players, senior players are in a good zone ahead of the tournament.”

Along with Shami, fellow pacer Mohammad Siraj has also been putting in performances to remember and is currently the leading wicket-taker in the series with five wickets in two matches. In the first ODI, he picked up 4/46. He also finished as the leading wicket-taker with nine wickets in three matches in the recently-concluded ODI series against Sri Lanka.

Talking about the role Siraj plays as a bowling partner, he said, “As far as I am concerned, I always talk to the bowler. I know he is putting in the effort but, at times, you don’t get the desired results and that can improve if you talk to your bowling partner. That is the role I like to play when I am bowling.”

India’s bowling performance in the match was down to the bowlers’ discipline, Shami said, because the pitch was not exactly one that can be categorised as bowler friendly.

He said, “Conditions were not as helpful to the bowlers as it may have appeared. Nor was it a fiery wicket. They got out early but conditions were not overtly bowler-friendly. We dismissed them cheaply by bowling a testing length. It was a damp wicket, but it was important to keep good line and length. All the bowlers were disciplined and the result is for all to see.”

With inputs from AFP