India news June 9, 2012

Two to three months for match-fitness - Ishant

ESPNcricinfo staff

Ishant Sharma, the India fast bowler who underwent ankle surgery in March, has said he needs another two to three months to achieve match-fitness.

"I am feeling strong and good again, and have even started to bowl four-over spells," Ishant told the news channel Aaj Tak. "However, it will be difficult to get fully fit in time for next month's tour to Sri Lanka. Intensity of bowling and fitness has to increase gradually, and I would also need some match practice to check myself. I think I will take two or three months more to regain match fitness." India play New Zealand at home in late August before taking on England in October.

Ishant missed the fifth season of the IPL due to the surgery, which he opted for upon returning to India after playing the Test series in Australia. When asked about the timing of his surgery, Ishant said: "I had to look at the long term rather than short term, and I knew surgery was the best option if I had to play for a long time. The key was to be fit in time for the new season and my rehab is progressing well. I am going back to the NCA (National Cricket Academy) next week."

Ishant said he was keen to play some domestic cricket prior to making it back to the national side. "It was only after 30 Tests that I came to know about my exact fitness levels and my bowling, its strength and weaknesses.

"Fast bowling is 70% fitness and the rest is skill. Earlier when I used to bowl after a long gap, the legs always felt a bit of pain. But this is not happening post surgery. I want to prove myself in domestic cricket before returning to the Indian team. More bowling, more fitness is my mantra right now."

Ishant, 23, has played 45 Tests for India, picking up 133 wickets at 37.87. He's also played 47 ODIs, taking 64 wickets at 32.12. He impressed in patches on the tour of Australia but was inconsistent, finishing with just five wickets at an average of 90.20 in the four-Test series. "I think I bowled well in the Tests against England and was unlucky to get injured thereafter, thus missing a chance to cement my place in the ODI team. My form against West Indies at home was also good, but somehow could not carry it to Australia."