Evolution of Ishant

Ishant Sharma... "You don't become a good cricketer unless you make so many sacrifices in life."-NAGARA GOPAL

“I love to be aggressive on the field,” says India’s fast bowler Ishant Sharma who, along with South African Dale Steyn, is spearheading Hyderabad Sunrisers’ attack in the current IPL. By V. V. Subrahmanyam.

He stands tall at the crowded Hyderabad Sunrisers’ nets. Despite the presence of some of the cricketing greats such as V. V. S. Laxman, former Pakistan fast bowler Waqar Younis and former India captain Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Ishant Sharma, along with South African speedster Dale Steyn, is clearly the cynosure.

The 24-year-old fast bowler has come quite some way since the time he bowled that memorable spell to former Australian captain Ricky Ponting Down Under a couple of years ago.

“Honestly, I was a kid and did not know what I was doing; just bowling fast. Now I am more of a thinking bowler. I always believe that a length ball is the wicket-taking delivery in any format,” said Ishant during a chat on the sidelines of Sunrisers’ training session in Hyderabad.

“I take pride in the fact that I am only the fourth fast bowler from India to have played 50 Tests. So, there are a lot of positives, and I am not going to ponder over the negatives in my career,” he said.

Ishant then hastened to add, “I love to be aggressive on the field.”

The gangling paceman from Delhi, who has claimed 144 wickets in 51 Tests and 76 wickets in 55 ODIs, pointed out that it is important to be strong physically and mentally to be a good cricketer at any level. “And, you don’t become one unless you make so many sacrifices in life. The most difficult one is being away from your parents and friends for long durations,” he explained.

Referring to the emphasis on spinner-friendly tracks in India of late, Ishant said, “You can’t complain about these things. You are playing for India and that should be the motivating factor for you to come up with special performances.”

How was it bowling alongside someone like Zaheer Khan?

“Honestly, Zak played a huge role in my career. I should say a big thanks to him. He gave me so many invaluable tips on how to bowl with the old and the new ball,” said Ishant.

In the fast lane.. Ishant Sharma of Sunrisers bowls during a practice session at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Hyderabad. To his right is Dale Steyn.-K. RAMESH BABU

He also spoke many times to former India fast bowler Javagal Srinath. “I am so similar to him in bowling. It is always a pleasure to talk to him and he always advises me to be consistent in any format and try to take wickets,” Ishant said.

Talking of the emergence of a young crop of fast bowlers, Ishant said he has a very good chemistry with Bhuvneshwar Kumar. “We keep talking to each other. We don’t have any ego problem at all. In fact, it is good to have bowlers like Umesh Yadav, who can swing a lot, Mohammed Shami and Ashok Dinda. A very good bunch of bowlers. It is just a matter of time before they emerge as premier bowlers,” said Ishant.

“There is nothing that scares me on the field. I repeat, the feeling of playing for my country transcends all barriers,” said Ishant. “True, having played 50 Tests you should control your emotions, but then, some of them are instinctive. Surely, it is good to be aggressive at least in terms of body language especially after being hit for a boundary,” said the fast bowler.

Ishant is of the view that the presence of Waqar Younis as the bowling coach of Sunrisers is a huge advantage.

Talking of his Sunrisers team-mate Steyn — whom Waqar considers to be the most complete fast bowler in contemporary cricket — Ishant said, “He is one of those great bowlers who make even small totals look very difficult to chase. He doesn’t give away runs too easily.”