Ishant Sharma has revealed he nearly quit ODIs after he was left out of the World T20 side following average series against Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. He came back to the ODI side with a match-winning over in the Champions Trophy final in 2013, but the three bilateral ODI series that followed pushed him out.
"It was a setback for me when I did not do well for the country or when I was not selected," Ishant said at a Sunrisers Hyderabad function. "I think the one person who gave me confidence was my mother. At one stage, I thought I should stop playing ODIs. But my mother pulled me out of my negativities. Such support from your parents or friends gives you much-needed confidence. Now, I am enjoying my cricket, which is more important. If you enjoy your cricket and express yourself on the field, you will do well."
Ishant insisted he he has brushed aside the disappointment, and is now looking forward to the new IPL season. "You feel bad when you are not part of the T20 World Cup," he said. "It is a big tournament. But it is not in my hand. If I am playing Test cricket or wherever I am playing, I have to do well in those conditions and that particular format.
"I am looking forward to do well in the new season. I am bowling well. I am in good rhythm. I played in domestic Twenty20, bowled well, took some wickets. I am confident with my bowling and hopefully I will do well for the Sunrisers this time as well."
Not among the players retained by Sunrisers ahead of this year's auction, Ishant was, however, bought back by the franchise for $400,000. Last season, he picked up 15 wickets from 16 matches and formed a potent new-ball pairing with Dale Steyn in IPL 2013 that was instrumental in the franchise's top-four finish. "Dale gives his plans and we set fields accordingly. That helps a fast bowler. It feels really great. I have learnt a lot from him."
Another player who has helped the team grow, according to Ishant, is Darren Sammy. "When he was not playing in the initial part last year, he was giving ideas to every member of the team," Ishant said. "All these small things help the team do well. When we sit together, it's not that we just laugh. We talk about cricket, about where we should improve. "
Expecting the pitches in the UAE to be similar, Ishant says he needs to use his experience and stick to the plans. "I think the wicket will be the same," he said. "It does not matter whether you play in India or UAE, the wicket will be the same in Asia. You should know where you need to bowl in the T20 format. You don't need to see how the wicket is going to behave. You just need to execute your plans well."
During his break from international cricket, Ishant has played a number of domestic limited-overs matches for Delhi and North Zone, the highlight being his spell of 4 for 9 in his last T20 outing for Delhi in the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy.
"I bowled well in South Africa and New Zealand and in the North Zone T20 tournament too," he said. "I am looking forward to doing well for Sunrisers in the IPL."
A tough season awaits India after the IPL as the team heads straight to England for a five-Test tour. But Ishant is not looking too far ahead: "I don't set personal goals for myself. Because in doing so you end up putting pressure on yourself. In T20 cricket one needs to react according to the situation."