HomeCricketSouth Africa Express: A tribute to Shabnim Ismail

South Africa Express: A tribute to Shabnim Ismail

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No tribute to Shabnim Ismail could ever be complete without suggesting how she manifests the meaning of her name, bringing its essence, to a sport she excels at.

A tribute to Shabnim Ismail

Just like the morning dew greets the lush-green grass before one experiences nature’s majesty, Shabnim Ismail’s commitment uplifts the Proteas Women like the protection forwarded by a cradle.
With Shabnim Ismail in their unit, South Africa feel safe. Not when she’s adrift from it.
This is why- for a fair argument’s sake- their bowling is feeling a little bit rusty and edgy on a tour to the Caribbean where the wins have been difficult to get and the runs have been leaking. Maybe that’s also why one can see an extra load and added expectation on another great of their game, Marizanne Kapp, Shabnim Ismail’s (new-ball partner) wrecker-in-chief over opponents whose bats, the duo, habitually reduce to something as innocuous as child’s baseball bat.
The collective menace produced by Marizanne’s nagging accuracy and Shabnim’s unabashed pace often marginalizes batswomen, constricting them for runs, thus reducing them of being the impact a raisin brings in curing extreme hunger.
On her own, the math of a contest stands utterly uncomplicated when Shabnim Ismail is involved. Regardless of who she bowls against and what format, the greatest tribute to Shabnim Ismail- one wonders- is to suggest that she knows no other way to bowl other than using every individual nerve of energy in her body to go fast and come hard at batswomen.
There’s no cutting of corners. It’s the precarious scenario where your HR manager in a steadfast Corporate disallows you to take a leave and escape from work.

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What makes Shabnim a class apart?

Who likes a harrowing moment of work pressure, hands tied at the work desk? In a similar vein, it’s not the most comforting sight to see a charged up Shabnim Ismail approaching the popping crease to hurl thunderbolts in excess of 130 ks/hr with throbbing veins and a body language that can spur the most listless scenario into a massive turnaround?
In order to extend a heartfelt tribute to Shabnim Ismail, one has to pay homage to the commitment with which she bowls in 2018, having lost not an ounce of enthusiasm with which she bowled in her debut game in 2007.
It was back in 2007 at Pretoria, among a set up that bore majestic formerly names- Kilowan, Letsoalo, Terblanche- that a young 19-year-old rookie pacer transformed the living daylights of Pakistan into peril nightmare.
When was the last time one saw Sana Mir consume 84 deliveries for a 24?
Well, that was the first time she was against Ismail and with the middle stump bidding goodbye to the ground, Shabnim had trapped one of Urooj Mumtaz’ blue-eyed girls into a goner!
How often does one see a pace debutant bowl a maiden, scalp not one but two wickets and bowl with the cunningness of a handy exponent of the game seeming less of a newcomer?
On that glorious Pretorian afternoon, Ismail acknowledged the love of the crowd, besotted with 10 overs- 1-38-2.

What lies ahead?

What’s impressive is that many moons later, as Ismail fired one over 131 ks, trapping Hayley Mathews plumb in front at Leicester, Women’s World Cup, 2017, later only to uproot the off and middle stumps of captain, Stafanie, nothing had changed; neither the bouncy pony-tail, the cringe-worthy celebration and the flexing of the nervy arms as if a pugilist had grounded a fighter in a ring.
That Shabnim Ismail is merely 30 and has, at least, half a decade ahead of her if not less, given she’s a stickler for the painfully correct rigours of net practice, one wonders what’s more catchy and evocative. Is it her overall gathering of 200 international wickets or the many undisturbed pieces of timber that beckon the execution of the classic modus operandi: the one pitched at good-length, skidding like a boomerang?

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Dev Tyagi
Dev Tyagi
Dravid believer, admirer of - the square drive, Drew Barrymore, Germany, Finland, Electric Mobility, simplicity and the power of the written word! Absolutely admire contributing to KyroSports

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