India’s craving for a bowler who is really fast has rarely been satisfied. That is why it is good to hear Ishant Sharma, the one man who has come closest to answering that description in the recent past.
“I love the game and that is why I am here,” Ishant said when asked if it is difficult to motivate himself for a domestic game. Left out of the India squad for the ODI series against Sri Lanka, Ishant is in Kolkata for Delhi’s Ranji Trophy match against Bengal.
After bursting on to the Test scene in Australia in early 2008, Ishant has seen a number of highs and lows, which is how cricket careers unravel in these fast-paced times. People have talked about too many matches in too short a time burning him out and forcing him to drop pace. Ishant has heard all that and remained calm. “Everyone has their own opinion. But I don’t think burnout is an issue if you take good care of yourself,” he said. That doesn’t mean he ignored his problems. “I had some and have worked on them,” Ishant said.
With help from many people, he added, including Zaheer Khan. Things seem to be falling into place in the T20s against Sri Lanka, where he was bowling fast and accurately.
However, in many ways, it is good that Ishant is here, getting ready for a four-day game, rather than travelling all over the country with Team India in search of the next bowlers’ graveyard.
The Jadavpur University Salt Lake Campus ground is also one which Ishant is familiar with, having taken a bucketful of wickets in U-19 Cooch Behar Trophy matches in the end of 2006, just before his first call-up to the national team. He hasn’t taken a look at the wicket yet, but “I don’t do that even before international matches”, Ishant said.
Maybe he doesn’t need to. All he needs to do is bowl fast.