Shami was India's second-highest wicket-taker at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2015, where his 17 scalps helped India bowl out the opposition seven successive times leading up to the semi-final.
Injury subsequently cast him on the sidelines, even as new, young fast bowlers emerged in the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. After the World Cup semi-final loss to Australia, Shami did not play one-day cricket for two years. It was a period marked by weight gain and a struggle for rhythm.
Shami has since put those issues behind. He is now back in top shape, is once again a regular in India's ODI squad, and is primed to go at the 2019 World Cup, having been named in the 15-man squad that was announced on Monday, 15 April. "In the last 18 months, I have continuously worked on my fitness and have been constantly trying to improve my game, [and] on what will be better for my team," he said on the sidelines of the IPL in Mohali.
"Yes, I was a bit heavy after my injury and didn't play ODIs for an extended time, but I have played ODIs recently. Especially in the last six months, there have been some outstanding changes in my life. I am happy with whatever I have achieved. I lost so much of weight, my body has that flow now and the rhythm, I feel, is similar to when I started [my career]. I will try to maintain the same rhythm in the future for the World Cup.
Whatever confidence that I have, in terms of my performance in the last seven-eight months, I want to carry that confidence and put my best foot forward for my team.
"There's a lot of difference [with my bowling] when compared to, say three years back. I have done a lot of hard work. I've worked with the coaches, and the confidence that I got with the Indian team, backing me when I was trying to improve my fitness levels, the management, the NCA - they all backed me with all their heart. I was also dedicated to take on the fitness challenge in front of me. I accepted that and the result is now in front of you."
Apart from issues with fitness, Shami has also had to deal with personal problems. He even had to take a break from the 2018 Indian Premier League after suffering a head injury in a road accident. But after spending another year out of the ODI team, Shami has gone back to his wicket-taking ways since returning to the side in October last year. He is Kings XI Punjab's highest wicket-taker in the IPL this season, with 10 wickets in eight matches.
"I'm very happy that I have got a second chance in a World Cup," he said. "As far as performance is concerned, they way I had performed in 2015, how I approached it with confidence, I am hoping that there's an increased confidence in me. And whatever confidence that I have, in terms of my performance in the last seven-eight months, I want to carry that confidence and put my best foot forward for my team."
With India's players up for a full grind, with the IPL season followed immediately by the World Cup, workload management has been a frequently broached subject. But Shami felt the IPL offered ideal simulation to be mentally prepared to deal with pressure at the marquee event.
"Playing these matches [in the IPL] help in terms of fitness and mental preparation," he said. "It's a challenging tournament before the World Cup and it is very helpful in the preparation, mentally and physically."