Ishant, leader in making

Pacer talks about bowling alongside Bhuvi, Umesh

Ishant, leader in making

On a muggy Dhaka evening six years ago, then Indian bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad looked chuffed after watching a lanky 18-year-old pacer with flowing mane in action. “This kid can do bigger things for India in future.” His words had a certainty in them.

A year later the same bowler produced that now-part-of-folklore spell against former Australian captain Ricky Ponting at Perth, also becoming the first Indian fast bowler to cross the 150kmph mark. That was Ishant Sharma – seriously quick, generating disconcerting bounce, courtesy his near 6’ 5’’ figure, and the potential leader of Indian pace attack.

But 51 Tests-old now, Ishant still hasn’t made that role his own. However, he showed plenty of good signs during India’s successful campaigns in the Champions Trophy in England and in the tri-series involving West Indies and Sri Lanka in the Caribbean, plucking 18 wickets from 10 matches.

The Delhi pacer showed a mature head on his shoulder while teaming up with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav, handling the senior’s role with ease.  

Ishant, understandably, is elated at his recent success. “I really like it when people term me as India’s pace spearhead. But there’s more to it than just being the spearhead. You need support from the other end to take 10 wickets in an innings, because at the end of the day it is a team sport. So, actually it doesn’t matter whether you are the spearhead or not. Its all about taking wickets for the team and contribute as a senior member of the side,” Ishant told Deccan Herald.

In that respect, Ishant has been quite fortunate to have Bhuvneshwar and Umesh on his side. The troika was at its lethal best for most part of the Champions Trophy – bagging 20 wickets. They seldom allowed opposition batsmen to break free, often putting them under pressure with early wickets.

Ishant explained why they have been successful together. “It’s good to bowl along with them. Bhuvi’s strength is that he can swing the ball both ways. He can handle the new ball very well. With Umesh, he can bowl really fast and has a lovely outswinger that’s quite effective while he’s handling the new ball. Once he masters the old ball, he will be a real force for us,” he said.

But for Ishant it’s just a beginning, and he wants to add more wickets against his name in the coming season, starting with a seven-match one-day series at home against Australia in October. “I feel I am in good rhythm. I am looking forward to the next season with a lot of confidence after the success I had in the last few months. I have been unlucky on many occasions in the past – not getting wickets even during a good spell. Hopefully, I can rectify that.”

The first real test of the new season for India and Ishant will come when they travel to South Africa in November, and Ishant has a plan in his mind for the grueling trip.

“Tour of South Africa is going to be a big test for all of us. I am working quite hard for that. I am bowling at least 10 overs a day to ensure that I am at the peak of my skills and fitness when we hit the road. If we talk about South Africa, the basics remain the same but you just need to alter your length a bit when you bowl in those pitches.

“There probably I need to bowl a bit more fuller so that I get good swing early on, unlike in the sub-continent where I need to mix it up from the word go. I had also some interactions with Dale Steyn (SA pacer) during the IPL, and hopefully that will stand me in good stead.”Considering the workload ahead of him, Ishant stressed that the break from the game has done a world of good for him – helping to get him ready for the challenges physically and mentally.

“The break has been good for me because it has helped me to focus on the important areas for a fast bowler like – strength and bowling skills. I am also using the time to prepare mentally for the challenges ahead.”DH News Service 

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