'I will never ever compromise on pace'
India's rising pace sensation Shami Ahmed feels cutting down on pace is one option he will never consider even though line and length, for him, are important aspects of fast bowling.
"For me, pace and swing are the two most important aspects of my bowling. I know that line and length is very important but I will never compromise on pace as it has been my biggest strength and has been a primary reason for reaching this level," said Shami.
Asked about the four consecutive maidens he bowled on his ODI debut to create an Indian record, Shami replied, "I just tried to bowl according to the field that my captain had set for me. You don't plan such things but it happened for me and I am happy. I always had confidence in my ability and was willing to work hard."
Having made his debut in a low-scoring game against Pakistan, Shami said he followed skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's instructions to the tee.
"Dhonibhai only told me not to get nervous, and not deviate from the game plan."
After the final one-dayer against England in Dharamsala, Dhoni felt that Shami has the pace but still needs to improve before being considered for the longer version of the game.
Representing India in white flannels, though, is the Bengal pacer's ultimate ambition.
"While playing Ranji Trophy, I have learnt that in days' cricket, you need patience. In one-dayers, you might try various things like slower, bouncer but in longer version, patience is the key. At this level, the batsmen who face you have a lot of quality and you need to be very persistent. You have to wait for batsmen to make mistakes."
Image: Shami Ahmed
'My motto in life is work more and talk less'
A month-long stint with the Indian team -- having played five ODIs -- has definitely made him realize that he has the potential to don the national jersey for a long time.
"Just watching the likes of Dhoni, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, you learn a lot. It's not that they will coach you but they tell you little things that you need to pick up.
"I had my state team new ball partner Ashoke Dinda and that also helped adjust easily in the dressing room. Me and Dinda open the bowling for Bengal and share a very good rapport. Bengal coach W V Raman taught me a lot of little things during Ranji Trophy while I had some good sessions with KKR bowling coach Wasim Akram. I am now planning to work on bowling yorkers," Shami said.
The bowler, who will be turning 23 in March, missed out on the Champions League T20 in South Africa and four Ranji Trophy games after sustaining a side strain injury during India A's tour of New Zealand.
"Missing out on Champions League was disappointing. I was also scared after the side strain injury as to what will be duration that I will be out of action. But my rehabilitation went well and I came back strongly."
He came to the 'City of Joy' Kolkata from a remote hamlet called Alinagar in Moradabad, eight years back and now considers Bengal as his "home".
"Even though my parents have been the guiding force, I can't thank Bengal cricket enough for giving me this opportunity. Today, I have got a house in Kolkata and my parents have come here to stay with me. Ab mera saab kuch yehan pe hi hain (Now, I have settled down here in Kolkata)."
His childhood coach Badruddin Siddiqui termed him as a "shy boy" but Shami begged to differ.
"Keeping quiet doesn't mean that I am shy. It's just that my motto in life is 'work more and talk less'."
Image: Shami Ahmed