IPL 2019: Ishant Sharma keen for white-ball comeback

Having represented various teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Ishant will represent his home team Delhi Capitals in the season beginning March 23.

Ishant Sharma was bought by Delhi Capitals for Rs 1.10 crore during the auctions in Jaipur earlier this year.   -  GETTY IMAGES

A veteran of 90 Tests, Ishant Sharma is recognisable as the ubiquitous fast bowler for India for the best part of the last 10 years. His limited-overs international career, however, hasn’t been as fluid; he has had a stop-start career in both formats, and hasn’t played a single international game with the white ball since January 2016.

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Ready and upbeat for a new Indian Premier League (IPL) stint with Delhi Capitals, Ishant hopes to do well to resurrect his white-ball career. “I’m pretty excited to do well for this season. I think it’s a great opportunity for me to do well in white-ball cricket, [to replicate] what I’ve been doing with the red ball. I think it’s a great opportunity for me to come back,” Ishant said at a media interaction here on Saturday.

Bowling in the multi-day format is far more testing than in the limited-overs format, and requires different application of skills and strategy. Rhythm gained by a bowler with the red ball helps him in the shorter formats, Ishant contended.

“If you do well with the red ball, you will take wickets with the white ball as well. With the red ball, you bowl long spells. So you’re always in rhythm. But [with the] white ball you’re not in rhythm because you might bowl one over, one spell, and then you don’t know when you’ll get your next over. So if you’re in rhythm and bowling with the red ball [it helps with the white ball],” he said.

Does bowling change with the format? “It changes a bit. Length doesn’t change, but your mindset changes a lot. [That’s] because, in Test cricket, bowlers always had an upper hand compared to batsmen, but in this format, [the] batsman has the upper hand because even if you miss just a little bit, the margin of error is so small you can [be hit for] a boundary,” Ishant felt.

From left: Ishant Sharma, Shreyas Iyer, Prithvi Shaw and Hanuma Vihari pose in the Delhi Capitals jersey.   -  SANDEEP SAXENA


Elaborating on the difference in training, he said, “You train according to your format. I don’t have to run too much because I’m not playing Test cricket. In Test cricket, you need to get ready [to bowl] for four sessions. You need to prepare for that. But in this, you have to give your flat out in four overs. You have to train according to that and work on your varieties; so, that’s what I have been doing.”

Juggling formats for a fast bowler may appear tiring. But not for Ishant. “I don’t think [playing all formats is tiring]. I’m not playing one-day cricket or any T20 cricket for the team. But still, I am playing domestic [cricket]. [Schedule for domestic cricket] is tighter than international cricket but still we manage to play. I don’t know why we crib about [the schedule]. You always feel there is more pressure in international cricket. In domestic, yes, there’s not much pressure but still you have to play cricket. Your body takes the load. I think the more you play the more you get better. I always feel that,” he said.

Young captain

This time, in the IPL, Ishant will play under the 24-year-old Shreyas Iyer. For Ishant, who is 30 and is far more experienced, the age of the captain doesn’t matter. “Captain is a captain. Young or old, it doesn’t matter. When you’re in the field he’s the captain; you have to give him respect, whatever he says you have to do it,” he said.

READ| How captaincy transformed Shreyas Iyer

Commenting on the new season, he said, “We’re pretty excited to do well for this season. There [are] a lot of new faces in the team, and I think we’re gelling well together as a team. So, hopefully we’ll do well.”

Working alongside Sourav Ganguly, the new advisor of the team, will be fruitful, believes Ishant. “He’s been our captain for India for so many years. He’ll share his experience with us. I have played under him in KKR; he was the captain there, so, whatever experience he has about T20 cricket, whatever thoughts he has about T20 cricket, I’m sure he is going to share with us and he’s going to help us,” he said.

Team India quartet

Ishant has been celebrated as a part of the quartet of India’s formidable fast-bowling unit — alongside Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. The trio helped India collect its first series victory in Tests in Australia in January 2019. However, he was quick to brush aside suggestions the unit was the best he has played with.

“I can’t say that this is the best fast bowling attack I’ve been with. Because then it is not a right word for the seniors. I have played with [Zaheer Khan], Ashish Nehra; I think they were greats as well. Yes, on paper, it did fantastically well to win games abroad. We took wickets; we broke records, evoking comparison with West Indian players. But I don’t think you can say what others didn’t do we did. I learnt a lot from Zaheer and I can’t really say that they were not greats,” he said.

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