When S Sreesanth was called up for India’s Test series against Sri Lanka last November, it was believed to be make-or-break chance for the medium pacer, then touted as the bad boy of Indian cricket.
And the Kerala bowler made the utmost use of the opportunity with a match-winning five-for in the second Test in Kanpur.
Though he has been able to maintain his place in the Test side ever since, the 27-year-old will have an even more important role as the Indian cricket team departs on Friday for the three-Test series.
With Zaheer Khan ruled out by a shoulder injury, Sreesanth will have to lead the fast bowling unit. His cohorts — Ishant Sharma and rookie Abhimanyu Mithun.
“It’s going to be a test of character because Zaheer bhai is not going to be around, so it’s going to be a huge challenge,” Sreesanth says. “I have to be patient; I have to be consistent so that I can help Bhajji (Harbhajan Singh) and the other bowlers come good.”
The task is not going to be easy. With Sreesanth having been tagged primarily as a Test bowler by the selection panel in recent times, he is certainly short of match practice.
But he does not think it will affect him this time.
The series starts with a three-day warm-up game from July 13, followed by the first Test on July 18.
“It doesn’t really affect me if I am not playing matches constantly. I have been training regularly. I don’t know about other individuals, but the lack of match practice doesn’t really affect me. Plus, there is a practice match as well so that will help,” Sreesanth says.
“I was at the NCA for a long while, and was undergoing full-fledged preparation with the chaps. I was also able to bowl to Rahul (Dravid) a couple of times, so that has also helped. Munaf (Patel), Ishant (Sharma), Rudra Pratap Singh, Piyush (Chawla) and I, all of us worked together. “It really helps when we are bowling together to Rahul. His inputs are really valuable.
Now I am just waiting to pick wickets for my country.”
So has he discussed anything in particular with Dravid about bowling to the Lankan lions? “Not really. He just keeps on telling us to keep it simple. I have watched a lot of them for a long time,” Sreesanth says.
“Bowling in sub-continental conditions is not easy for a fast bowler. You have to be consistent and persistent to succeed, especially when you are bowling to the likes of Sangakkara, Mahela, Samaraweera and Dilshan.”