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July 5, 2011
Eric Simons, the India bowling coach, is pleased with the resurgence in Ishant Sharma's bowling in the ongoing West Indies tour, leading up to his maiden ten-wicket match haul in the Barbados Test. Ishant's revival - after a poor tour of South Africa - began in the IPL and has continued in the Caribbean, a transformation Simons attributed to vital technical changes in the bowler's action, including his body and wrist position.
"Ishant had already started taking big strides in South Africa," Simons told the Hindustan Times. "From a technical perspective, what I saw of him in the IPL gave me a lot of confidence.
"Sometimes pressure forces players to try and change too many things technically. And in trying to do that, he lost some of his shape as a bowler. To identify what is wrong is only 10% of the problem; fixing it takes time. That is why the improvement through South Africa, and in the IPL and even more so here.
"His body position forced his grip to change. Now he's more upright, and his wrist is in a better position. Only when you are confident about the technique and start bowling at the pace you are capable of, you can be at your best."
In the absence of Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth, India came into the series with a depleted seam attack and Munaf Patel's injury following the ODIs made matters worse. Simons said Munaf - whose suspect fitness levels have restricted him to the shorter versions in recent times - has a lot to offer at the Test level.
"I am disappointed about Munaf's injury here," Simons said. "We have been working hard on increasing his pace. His accuracy, particularly in Tests, would have been an advantage.
"We have seen how integral Munaf has become to our one-day attack. He's going to do the same in Test cricket. Barbados would have been an ideal wicket for him, and England will be the same. We are happy to add one or two dimensions to his style. He has to bowl more and more in Test cricket, and that will happen from the training we have been doing."
The absence of first-choice seamers gave Praveen Kumar a chance to break into the Test side, and he impressed with his ability to move the red ball for long periods of time. With Zaheer and Sreesanth returning for the England tour, Simons was confident that India would have the depth to trouble the in-form home side in seaming conditions.
"If I were in the England side, I would certainly be respectful of the Indian attack," Simons said."I'd imagine they would respect our seam attack as much as they respected our spin attacks in the past."
Simons defended spin spearhead Harbhajan Singh, who has had an ordinary series so far, picking up only five wickets in four innings. "You have to look at the role a spinner has to play sometimes in a four-man attack," Simons said. "It's not just about taking wickets. Harbhajan is so crucial to us. People see him as an attacking force and tend to play him defensively as well."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala