India news August 22, 2013

I love being the bowling spearhead - Ishant

ESPNcricinfo staff

A year ago Ishant Sharma was struggling to find a place in the Indian team in any of the formats but has since graduated to being the senior quick in the side, and is looking forward to leading India's bowling on their tour of South Africa in November.

"I love being the spearhead of the Indian bowling attack and it is a privilege for any fast bowler," he told the Times of India. "At the same time it is better not to think about these things and stay focused. Yes, I have to be ready for India's big tour of South Africa, but before that we also have the Champions League T20 and the ODIs against the Aussies."

He had undergone surgery in March 2012, which put him out of cricket until August. Having described the time spent from the national side as the worst phase of his life, Ishant returned to the squad for the home series against New Zealand, but he was unable to make the XI. In December 2012, he was thrust with the responsibility of leading the Indian attack when Zaheer Khan was dropped for the Nagpur Test against England.

Ishant consulted a specialist in Melbourne in February this year after a recurrence of pain in his ankle following the one-dayers against Pakistan and England. But since then, he struck form and was one of the architects of India winning the Champions Trophy final. Ishant's injuries have made him well aware of the work quick bowlers need to put in to stay fit.

"Fast bowling is about having the requisite strength and I need to gain strength," he added. "I have to build on my speed and endurance. I'm following the fitness regimen devised by the coaches at the National Cricket Academy and I am working quite hard. I go to the gym in the morning then break for lunch and return to bowling in the afternoons. I also go for swimming and take ice baths after rigorous training sessions."

Since Zaheer was sidelined from the one-day side in August last year, Ishant has picked up 30 wickets at an average of 25.50 in 18 matches. But he has not been able to replicate that form in Tests, with 11 wickets in six matches. "In my first three years of international cricket, I grew under Zak. Whatever I am is because of him," he said. "He taught me how to bowl. Everything that I do on the field is what I learnt from him. It will be great to have him back."

Zaheer has recently returned to India after working with Tim Exeter, former member of the Scotland Rugby squad, to improve his fitness and stamina in the south of France.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nish on August 24, 2013, 7:31 GMT

    Admittedly like many Indian fans, I too get frustrated with Ishant's performances many a time but the guy is a whole-hearted trier & one of the fastest we have. It is not as if we have an abundance of genuine fast bowlers & this is why we struggle to bowl out sides - particularly in blasting out the opposition tailenders & in alien overseas conditions too - due to this dearth of fast bowling talent we have. With due respect, all these other bowlers put forward are all just medium pacers & are NOT going to do this job for us either! Ishant is only 25, probably will get still get better, hopefully start getting some luck too as he seems to be unlucky at times in not getting wickets his good bowling deserves & don't forget those two wickets in two balls that won us the Champions Trophy! So in view of this, let us support the big guy instead of constantly denigrating him which I frankly find quite tedious & annoying!

  • Praveen on August 24, 2013, 6:41 GMT

    This guy won't find a place in the XI if Dhoni thinks he doesn't need him. The odds of this are high. And people who want Umesh Yadav in tests, be sensible you guys, the guy is not fit for the longer format of the game, he will break down if he plays 3 consecutive days of cricket and doesn't have the technique for test cricket. We need bowlers who can bowl effortlessly and take wickets in Tests. I'll go with BK,Shami,Mohit and Ishwar(Zak as backup pacer, because the young lads have earned their places in the side and didn't take their places for granted like Zak did once)

  • raj on August 24, 2013, 2:24 GMT

    India's 'pace' attack in SA should consist of Bhuvanesh, U Yadav, Ishant, Zaheer & Pandey. This attack, I believe, provides a very good balance of youth and experience, old ball (Zak & Ishant) and new ball (B Kumar & Yadav) combinations. With Pandey earning his spot. as back up, through his recent showing in SA.

  • Anil on August 23, 2013, 17:41 GMT

    Here is another sample: "bowling fast is my strength and that will remain so: Umesh Yadav", in Indian Express today. With a Test average of 32 (econ 4.2; over 6 in ODIs) he is our next best. If you leak over 4 runs overs after overs and taking an odd wicket here and there, how does it matter if bowling fast is your strength? You should use your brain to take wickets--no matter what your approach. What use if you bowl as fast as lightening? None of these leading Indian bowlers seem to be doing what they are supposed to be doing: take wickets while conceding as less runs as possible. Except for some domestic spin-friendly pitches and Aswin-Jaddu-Ojha, India's recent records would be unworthy of looking at. I am dreading for the coming winter (SA tour) and summer (Eng again). I wish I could close my eyes when these two are spanked all over the park.

  • stuart on August 23, 2013, 16:25 GMT

    I bet we in other countries could only wish we had a spearhead like this.We wait his bowling in South Africa and then England next year. We fear his talent and remember the last time he bowled on our pitches. Guess we can but wait for the master to bowl here.

  • Sagnik on August 23, 2013, 13:55 GMT

    Interesting a person with a bowling average of 38 leads the bowling attack. Zaheer should get picked for South Africa because India will certainly need his experience to win and guide the other young bowlers. India should use Zaheer only for tests like Australia use Peter Siddle only for tests.

  • Frank on August 23, 2013, 13:08 GMT

    Ishant, all these years the selectors kept him in the team because he had potential. He played 50 tests.

    Now, they will keep playing him for another 50 tests because he is now experienced !

  • Al on August 23, 2013, 12:42 GMT

    My question to the Selectors - Why do you keep selecting Ishant Sharma? Do you think a bowler averaging 38 deserves to be in Indian team ?? We have no shortage of talent in India. All the younger bowlers - Bhuvi, Ishwar, Mohit, Shami, Sandeep Sharma, Sandeep Warrier, Imtiyaz Ahmed, etc. can do better than Ishant. We just need Zaheer to guide them for a year or 2. Sandeep Patil is a very reasonable man. I am pretty sure he will have a chat with Ishant soon.

  • Kunal on August 23, 2013, 12:05 GMT

    He is not that bad guys??

  • Ramya on August 23, 2013, 12:01 GMT

    "I love being the spearhead of the Indian bowling attack" says Ishant Sharma - This must be the most hilarious statement made by a cricketer in recent times! He has never been up to it as a regular pacer leave alone being the spearhead!

    He bowled well in tandem with Steyn in the IPL - maybe he needs a player of that stature on the other end to help him out and thts y he was decent when he bowled with Zaheer in his first few matches.

    He needs to play more domestic cricket - playing county mite help. He is still young, so can improve. But this man needs a reality check - dropping him frm the squad like GG, Shewag, Yuvi and Bajji can help.

    Zak can be picked to help groom the younger breed - I think he can play for 2 yrs max - provided he hits form! An in-form Zak is a serious threat on any day, B.Kumar, Yadav, Pandey, Shami can learn a lot from him.