Ishant, Mishra deserve to be in India ODI squad: Sangakkara

Ishant, Mishra deserve to be in India ODI squad: Sangakkara

"Ishant was really outstanding for us this season. When he came in he was a bit rusty, but you could see his top quality in the nets. He's probably the best fast bowler currently in India along with Zak (Zaheer Khan).

"He's proven in this IPL by performing consistently, day in and out," he said at the match-eve press conference ahead of Deccan's IPL match against Pune Warriors tomorrow.

The former Sri Lanka captain said that Ishant thrived on confidence and the young Indian paceman has shown it in this IPL.

"Just a case in point when we were defending a low total (135 against Mumbai Indians yesterday). Ishant always bowls well when he's got his confidence and is intent attacking right from the start.

"When he's got that confidence he's able to raise his game. He really wanted to show some intent in the first six overs and came charging in. That was really good for us," said Sangakkara who stepped down as Sri Lanka skipper after the World Cup.

He also came in for praise of leg-spinner Mishra, whose all-round show yesterday helped Deccan scored a stunning upset over Mumbai Indians.

"The Indian guys like Ishant and Amit Mishra have been outstanding. This is the first time I have seen Amit from up close 'keeping to him. He's got all the tricks the leg spinner should have. At the same time what is important for a leggie is that he's got a huge heart, very strong character.

"That (character) came through yesterday with his batting (when he struck Munaf Patel for four successive fours in the last over of the DC innings)," Sangakkara said.
"He is a guy who will grab every opportunity given to him and try and do well with it," he added.

Sangakkara said IPL performance can be taken into account for choosing national Twenty20 sides which he felt was what the Indian selectors did when choosing the ODI squad for the West Indies.

"The real question is what you are selecting the players for. If it's the Twenty20 side, may be you can consider T20 performance like IPL. Selecting players for ODI side or a Test side, I don't think IPL format is really that much, as it's quite a different format.

"At the same time when you see guys like Ishant (Sharma) and Amit (Mishra) and they do consistently well as bowlers even in this format of the game, that means they have a lot to offer. Especially bowlers with the skills they have.

"I think those two guys have done really well and have played for India. They (selectors) know what they (Ishant and Amit) had. They probably waited to see how these guys step up in the IPL and they did it," he said.

Sangakkara was also impressed with the performance of another Delhi player Shikhar Dhawan in the IPL 4 and some other Indian youngsters.

"Shikhar Dhawan is a top class batsman, very technically correct. Even in Twenty20 cricket he holds sway very well, doesn't slog. That's very well for us. He's been extremely impressive.

"Most of the younger players like Bharat Chipli and the others around him have done well. He will keep improving and will be a very important player next season," said Sangakkara.

Asked what advice did he give to rookie Anand Rajan who had to bowl the last over when Mumbai Indians needed 28 for a win yesterday and then was hit for a six by Kieron Pollard, Sangakkara said all he did was to make the youngster relax.

"Yesterday was Anand's first game and in a tight situation he held his nerve. I tried to make him relax and make sure he does not get confused as to what he's got to do. For a young kid like that it's really important.

"Credit to the guy. After the first ball being hit for a six, bowling a couple of wides he still held his nerve and managed to get Kieron done in at third man. It was very important at that time. Showed lot of character and he's got a lot of potential for us," he said.
Sangakkara also came out strongly in support of an international window for the lucrative IPL as he said it will solve the players' dilemma of having to choose between fulfilling their contractual obligations with the franchises and playing for their country.

"ICC will hopefully look at a window for IPL. It's become a permanent part of calendar and it can hold its own with any other tournament. It won't put players into positions where they have to choose between playing in the IPL for which they have signed on before and also keeping their word to their countries," said Sangakkara.

"Such a move would help the players in not rubbing anyone on the wrong side on occasions, feels the 33-year-old Sangakkara who led the Lankans to a second-place finish in the last World Cup.

"All players take a huge amount of pride in playing for their countries. That's always going to be their main aim. But at the same time if they don't have to do that choosing of sides I think it will make it easier for players, boards, everyone included and not rub anyone up the wrong side at times," he said.

Looking ahead Sangakkara, who would be playing his last IPL tie tomorrow against Pune Warriors at D Y Patil Stadium before rejoining the national duty, said the team had lost a lot of opportunities to close out games this season.

"For us as a team this season it had been a very steep learning curve. We got great opportunities to win games. We put ourselves in very strong positions and through a few mistakes, especially on the field, we lost too many games.

"The positives are we played good cricket, we have been in positions to win but that also hurts. When we beat teams like Mumbai Indians that shows how good we are," he remarked.

Sangakkara said Deccan missed the services of the injured Kevin Pietersen but even without him, the Chargers had come close to victories repeatedly.

"We missed Kevin Pietersen. At the same time if you look at our performance whoever we missed we had actually been in positions from where we should have closed out games. Not just one or two but quite a no of them.

"Even without a guy like KP in the side we have been getting there regularly but not closing out. Those are the things we have to look at going forward," he commented.
Sangakkara was also happy about Sri Lanka launching its own Twenty20 league in July and said the most important factor was it should help club and provincial level cricketers most rather than established international cricketers of his country.

"We are having the first tournament in July. I hope it goes off well and becomes a very successful tournament. I hope the benefits from SLPL will go down to the grassroots level and actually benefit the players who play day in and out for their clubs and provinces.

"Without much reward and who don't get the opportunity regularly in the national sides or to come here and play in something like the IPL. I think the SLPL should benefit those players a lot, not the Sri Lanka internationals.

"Of course, international stars should benefit as well. But equally Sri Lanka club players and provincial players who no one has heard or seen as yet should be rewarded greatly for their commitment and passion for Lankan cricket. They are the guys who are keeping us afloat," he said.

Sangakkara said there would be less pressure on him on the England tour after having relinquished his captaincy and hoped he would continue to score runs.

"Going to be great fun for me to go there I would be a lot more relaxed. I love playing Test cricket. Hopefully I can make an impact on the tour and keep doing what I do, that's scoring runs," he said.