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Anand Subramaniam in Kolkata 15 April 2013 - 12:10am IST

The real Ishant stands up

Fast bowler talks of learning with Waqar Younis and his ‘mature’ present

It is amazing what an impact one path breaking performance can have. It was way back in 2008 that Steve Waugh called Ishant Sharma the next big thing in cricket and rated him ‘high up there’ amongst the new crop of Indian fast bowlers. Five years back, Ishant had pace, Ishant was consistent and was getting the best in the business hop around at the crease with his sheer accuracy and wicket taking ability.

Five years on, times have changed; suddenly one gets an impression that the ‘wicket-taking’ Ishant is wrapped in a closet. Some believe that the tall pacer has forgotten the art of taking wickets, while the rest believe he is one of those bowlers who showed a lot of promise, but is slowly fading away like a candle lit in a dark room. There is still a particular sect though, that believes in Ishant Sharma and feels he is genuinely India’s brightest prospects in the fast bowling department. 

Ishant has a lot working in his favour. For starters he is just 24 years old, almost a regular in the Indian whites and now he shares his space with two of the most exciting fast bowlers in world cricket wherein each day is like a learning experience. In this exclusive chat with
IPLT20.com, the fast bowler talks about the “matured Ishant” , an Ishant who does not care about his critics and an Ishant with tremendous self confidence.

From 2008 to 2013, is Ishant Sharma a different bowler?

I am the same bowler. I haven’t changed at all. I love to be aggressive on the field and look at the positives in my game. I was always ready for the challenge five years back and I still am. I have tremendous self confidence in myself which has never faded away since 2008. I am a more matured bowler now. I know about my body well, and I am more matured when it comes to fitness, preparations and mindset.

In the previous Test series against Australia, you had just seven wickets to your name. Disappointed?

I don’t worry when I go wicket-less. I have taken wickets whenever I have got an opportunity. We all know that the wickets in the India-Australia Test series were spinner friendly where I got very little to bowl. In the limited opportunities I got to bowl, I took wickets. That is what I look to doing in the future, Every time I have the ball in my hands representing India!

But the question here is, Ishant is 51 Test matches old, shouldn’t he have taken a lot more wickets in that span of time?

Look, after playing 50 Test matches for your country, no one wants to change the way you bowl. Only the mindset has to be changed. Waqar Younis, our bowling consultant in the IPL asked me to believe in myself and said, “Ishant if you are bowling to a batsman of high caliber, tell yourself that you are a big bowler for your country as well. Take pride in your name, take pride in how you are bowling to him and take pride in the skill and ability that you have as a bowler.” These are words that have stuck in my mind and I look forward to implement it in my bowling.

As you said, Waqar Younis showed a lot of keenness to work with you, what aspect of your bowling has he worked on?

The good thing about someone like a Waqar, who is a legend of the game, is that he has never wanted me to change anything in my bowling. Yes, there are certain minor changes like line and length that he has asked me to work on. Apart from that he hasn’t asked me to bring about any drastic changes in my bowling.

You obviously would have a lot to learn from Waqar and Dale Steyn, your SRH team mate.

Being amongst Dale and Waqar in the side, obviously for me as you said is a great learning curve. There is a lot you can learn from the best fast bowler in the world and one of the best fast bowlers in an era gone by. It is great to have them in the dressing room. Little advices on how to bowl and where to bowl makes a lot of difference.

How do you plan to get more consistent with respect to line and length?

Consistency depends on confidence. It has nothing to do with how you are bowling, if you are going to be confident about yourself and confident about the skills you hone, the consistency will come on its own.

Your detractors say you have lost your wicket taking abilities. How do you react to that?

I do not need to prove anything to anyone. I am playing for my country and have picked up wickets in India and abroad. Everyone has their own opinion. My job is to pick wickets for India whenever I have the ball in my hand.

Will we see you bowling consistently at 140kmph?

I am trying my level best to bowl 140 plus consistently. That is my aim. I do not want to sacrifice pace. I want to keep coming hard at the batsmen.”

What is the mindset that you go into before any game?

Whenever I am on the field, I look to go out there and enjoy the game. I accept the challenge that is thrown at me and work towards coming out trumps at the end of it. Till the time the team wins and I contribute towards the team’s success I am a happy man.

A word for your fans, who have backed you come what may.

My fans need to believe in me that I am going to do well whenever I go out there to bowl. I am sure I will do well in whatever format of cricket I play for which I am working hard as I was doing before. I am working much harder this time.  

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