India ran riot through South Africa on the final day of the opening Test, picking seven wickets in the morning session before wrapping up the game within an hour after lunch and scripting an impressive 203-run victory in Visakhapatnam to take a 1-0 lead in the three-game contest. Mohammed Shami played the pivotal role on the fifth day, taking three wickets in the first session -- Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock -- which exposed the weaker lower order who were further troubled by Ravindra Jadeja before Shami returned to grab the final two wickets and subsequently completed his fifth five-wicket haul in Test cricket.
There has been a certain trend when it comes to Shami in Test cricket, if you have noticed -- his love affair with the second innings. And on Sunday, he only strengthened the bond with his fourth fifer with the old cherry on a pitch where other pacers failed to extract any good. He swung the ball, delivered myriad ranges of length and teased the batsman with the old ball with all at his disposal. In fact, all the pacers bowled a combined 105 overs in the first four days at Visakhapatnam, picking only four wickets, while Shami bagged five in just the 10.5 overs he bowled on the final day, conceding only 35 runs.
Time to sing "Second innings Shami"
Although the wicket count is evenly spread across the two innings for Shami, he has a far better average, economy rate, strike rate and has picked four out of his total five fifers in the second innings while also conceding fewer runs.
Dissecting his numbers in the second innings further, Shami has managed to scalp almost similar number of wickets in third and fourth innings with two fifers each, but his numbers in the final innings has been simply sensational. And what makes the difference is his length and his ability to bowl at stumps. He delivers with a straightened seam, but with his ability to swing through the air, he tends to deceive the batsman if he changes his length (which is what happened to Faf du Plessis).
Overall, since his debut in November 2013, Shami has picked 80 wickets in the third and fourth innings which is the fourth-most by a pacer after James Anderson (97), Trent Boult (92), and Stuart Broad (83). And while his strike rate puts him ahead of the three, he has same number of five-wicket hauls as James Anderson.
But Shami has truly turned into a second-innings specialist since the start of 2018. Shami has picked 40 wickets since 2018 combining the third and fourth innings at a superb average of 17.70 and strike rate of 32.1, including three five-wicket hauls - the most by any bowler. While his first fifer within the time frame came in Johannesburg in January 2018, he had bagged his second five-wicket haul en route to 6 for 56 against Australia in Perth. Hence, his 5 for 35 against South Africa in Visakhapatnam on Sunday was his first on home soil as he joined Karsan Ghavri, Kapil Dev and Madan Lal in the list of other Indian pacers to take fifers in the fourth innings of a home Test.
On the contrary, he has managed only 23 wickets in 16 first innings at an average of 37.56 and at a strike rate of 70.50 with no fifer at all. His best figures in the first innings since 2018 has been 3 for 64.