New Zealand v India, 2nd Test, Wellington, 1st day February 14, 2014

'I have been bowling well since SA' - Ishant

'I have been bowling well since SA tour' - Ishant

It was an unusually combative Ishant Sharma who walked into the press conference after taking his best Test figures of 6 for 51. He had the air of a man who had proved the doubters wrong again, and did not understand why there had to have been doubts in the first place. A man who believed he had always put in the toil, but could not control the perceptions people had developed about him. He even suggested that he was dropped for "important tours" and picked for "easy" ones.

Was this the best he had bowled in a Test? He repeated what he had said earlier on the tour - that he had been bowling well for a while, and that he hadn't done much differently in this series.

"Even in the last presser, I (said I) have been bowling well since South Africa," Ishant said. "People are just recognising it now because I am taking wickets. I don't analyse my bowling a lot. At this stage, it is a lot about the mindset, about what you are thinking before the game. I was the same when I bowled to Ponting, I was the same when I got the Man of the Series against West Indies (in 2011), and I am still the same. It's become more important what people think about.

"Only from experience do you learn. I have seen enough ups and downs in my life. When there is an important tour, I always get dropped and when there is an easy tour, then I am there. It's a very hard thing for me but whatever I do for myself I did. I keep on doing what I can."

When asked whether he had used a helpful pitch better than the other bowlers, Ishant said while he had the wickets to show, Zaheer Khan had been unfortunate not to pick up any. "Everyone bowled in good areas but I got the rewards and so did (Mohammed) Shami. Zak pa was very unlucky that he didn't get a wicket, got one off a no-ball."

Ishant said it was nice to have made first use of the conditions and added that India had learned from their first-innings showing in Auckland, where they had allowed New Zealand to post 503 after having reduced them to 30 for 3. "Obviously good to win the toss... spongy bounce, there was some juice and we bowled with great discipline in the morning. In Auckland maybe we got a bit carried away looking at the fresh pitch but second innings in Auckland we learnt that if we bowl with discipline, we will get more rewards. And that's what we did today, bowled with discipline in the right areas, looked to bowl well rather than take wickets."

Ishant had a role to play with the bat as well, coming out as nightwatchman to join half-centurion Shikhar Dhawan after the late fall of Cheteshwar Pujara. He survived 16 balls, and felt the pitch had become less spiteful compared to the morning. "Obviously we are very happy with how Shikhar played today. Even Pujara, although he didn't get many runs, he hung in there for a long time. We will try to get as many runs as we can. Wicket is a bit better now, the ball is coming on to the bat nicely. It was moving around in the morning but for the length I batted, it didn't move that much. Obviously the new Kookaburra moves a lot more."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo