India v Australia, 4th Test, Delhi March 21, 2013

Job of seamers in India to contain runs - Ishant


The fringe men in India's romper-stomper of a performance in the series against Australia are medium-pacers Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar who, between them, have picked up only 10 of the 59 Australian wickets to fall, at an average of 40.4 and a headache-generating strike rate of 80.4. These are numbers that would give palpitations to captains and coaches in many countries, but in India the seamers understand why they have, quite literally, been shown their place.

The day before the fourth and final Test in Delhi, Ishant turned up to speak to reporters and explained his role, if it required him chugging along in the sidelines and playing support to the new man Bhuvneshwar. "Your role in India is to contain the flow of runs so that the spinners can attack from the other end. You've got to hunt in a pack and bowl in partnerships like how you bat in partnerships. When you bowl in partnerships, you may not get wickets but the bowler at the other end gets wickets."

Ishant said he had switched new-ball duties with Bhuvneshwar, who made his Test debut in Chennai and has taken six wickets at 31.16 in the series so far. "I feel Bhuvi's bowling is different to mine. Bhuvi is more effective with the new ball because he can swing it both ways. I don't get much swing in Indian conditions and I have to wait for the ball to get a bit old so that it reverse-swings… only after that I can attack, but till then my role is to contain. Everyone knows their role and this is the best part of our team."

Pitches in the series so far have been bare and dry, Chennai and Hyderabad putting batsmen's abilities to play the turning ball under strict examination. The Mohali track was undeniably the best for batting and offered more help to the seamers. Ishant said, "As you saw in the last three Test matches there was a lot of help for the spinners, so I have got very less bowling. It was only in the last match in Mohali that I got nearly 30 overs but before that I didn't get much bowling."

For the seamers, Ishant said maintaining the balance between attack and defence and using the best bowler in the most suitable conditions was important. "If you are bowling first then the ball does not swing that much because conditions are not that favourable. So you have to wait for the ball to swing more, then you can attack but until then you have to be defensive."

The moment to attack came when the ball got a little old and reverse-swing of the kind that Ishant can put into use came into play. "You also have to wait for the ball to reverse-swing so you can have fielders in attacking positions… These factors are very important when considering when to attack and when to defend."

Ishant, who plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy, was speaking at his home ground the Ferozshah Kotla, where he would miss playing for India, together his team-mate, Shikhar Dhawan, who scored the fastest Test century on debut in Mohali but fractured his left hand.

The contrasts between India's performances in the away Tests in England and Australia in 2011 and early 2012 and Australia's woeful performances on their 2013 tour of India had, Ishant said, reiterated the advatages of home conditions, "When we went to Australia we struggled a lot and everybody said we can't play away from home and now you can see that even Australia can't play here. So the advantage of home conditions is quite big. Our home conditions suit spinners and Australia is weak against the spinners so that has been a big advantage for us."

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Balajee on March 22, 2013, 9:41 GMT

    Was Ishant being serious here?

  • Mehul on March 22, 2013, 9:17 GMT

    What Ishant says reflects the typical lame mindset of fast bowlers in India. How doesn't he feel bad within when he says his role is to contain?? He should be attacking with the new ball, make the batsmen hop, make them uncomfortable, make them drive, make use of his height and there he is talking like a tiny worm.Forget about reverse swing,etc. As 'ansram' correctly even Kapil Dev took good number of wickets in India. Also McGrath, Gillispie, Steyn, Morkel took wickets in Idia then why cant he? His selection for 50 tests is really surprising given his maturity development and performance over 5 years. If batsmen didn't perform in Eng/Aus, what about fast bowlers? I checked up his stats for overseas and he averages 41.41. Please dont talk like a kid figthing about teams having home advantage,etc. Why the heck are new guys like Awana and Dinda not being given chances? Have the Indian selectors dosed off to sleep?

  • Naresh on March 22, 2013, 7:59 GMT

    Ishant needs to learn to bowl in the right areas. He is blessed with height but does not make it count. Definitely a liability to the team. Hell us fans can see it but not the selectors. When Ishant first broke free in Oz years ago, we all thought here is a bowler who can make it for India - but we were wrong.

  • Vatsal on March 22, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    Its really refreshing to see new team India under Dhoni and FLetcher leadership. The team is full of youngsters with good technique and a lot of athleticism and energy. Plus they are hungry for a chance to prove themselves and give it their 100% in whatever is asked of them even if its just an 8 over spell in an innings.

    What that does for Dhoni is it places him in a good position as a leader to implement his strategies.

    Discounting the factor home conditions play, The team that got thrashed seemed like it relied heavily on superstars who werent very malleable and so the team relied more on a matchwining performnace from someone rather than good execution of strategies. So, there came a time when no one stood up to win a match yet noone was to be replaced because of their past achievements.

    The new team, is more run by careful planning and execution of strategies. In this team everyone knows their role which is clear defined and not outrageous.

  • Ram on March 22, 2013, 7:51 GMT

    Really? Ask Kapil dev who took 200+ wickets in India in 65 matches, at an average of 26 and a strike rate of 60.

  • Sandeep on March 22, 2013, 7:12 GMT

    If in India, the role of fast bowlers is to contain runs then why the hell you got thrashed and hit all over in England and Australia. You had even poorer bowling averages while bowling on seamer/ faster friendly pitches. You are the biggest liability in Indian team and why the hell selectors does not seem to understand that. A bowler with gifted height but who does not understand cricket and has no bowling skills even after playing 50 odd test matches. I am very disappointed seeing Ishant who is probably the worst example I have ever seen, with no learning capability at all.

  • AB on March 22, 2013, 6:16 GMT

    Stop giving excuses Ishant -you took 5 wickets in 4 test matches in Australia when all the Australian pacers were all over us. Zaheer and Umesh both took 15 wickets in 4 matches and had a lot more to show than you. You have become a one dimensional bowler with neither speed nor variations -you are also the least atheletic of all the pace bowlers I have ever seen (ok Munaf would be a close competitor). You need to work hard, improve your speed by notches and get a lot more variations -a track record of 140 wickets in 50 test matches does not boost anyone's confidence

  • Satish Chandar on March 22, 2013, 5:06 GMT

    Ishant.. This guy did have some good spells as youngster.. But he is no more a bowler who can run in and bowl when the captain calls him these days. A third seamer can perform containing role to make the spinner and other bowlers attack at other end. But a guy with such a 50 test experience should be laading the attack and not wasting the new ball saying 'i perform that role'..

  • Merv on March 22, 2013, 4:43 GMT

    A Test average of 38 is pretty terrible for a front line pace bowler. Really why do India need any pace bowlers at all? Just go with 5 spinners and the mud wickets they insist on these days, and they will be the kings...whoops they do have to go to other countries don't they where full cricket is played?

  • Dummy4 on March 22, 2013, 3:55 GMT

    How ridiculous can it get....this good for nothing,liability of a bowler who is there to make up the numbers has the gall to justify his consistent non-performance.This can happen only in India.My guess is India is aiming for another record with this bloke,The worst specialist bowler in the history of cricket...i guess hes already time to retire ishant shamer....