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Gone off track, Ishant awaits wickets, India call

india Updated: Apr 14, 2011 00:29 IST
Abhijeet Kulkarni
Abhijeet Kulkarni
Hindustan Times
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The first over Ishant Sharma bowled in the Indian Premier League (IPL) this season for Deccan Chargers, he made Rahul Dravid hop and jump to survive.

The intensity was also there in the second over, but luck eluded the Delhi pacer as he ended wicketless to increase the pressure on him.

The IPL presents a golden opportunity for Sharma to regain his berth in the Indian squad with the national selectors keen on creating a bigger pool of players due to the hectic schedule this year. And it looked like the 22-year-old was making a statement of intent.

However, just like his career graph that took off with a bang but failed to sustain the momentum, he hasn't made any impact since then.

In the next two overs in that match against Rajasthan Royals, he was carted for 21 runs. And then he was not asked to finish his spell in the second game against his former team, Kolkata Knight Riders, after conceding 25 runs in three overs without taking a wicket. Even in that game, Sharma did bowl a few breathtaking deliveries but the struggle for consistency continues. He wants to concentrate on consistency in the next few games and feels if he can do that the results would automatically come.

"For me it is more important to stick to my speed and bounce. That is my strength. I need to stick to it and improve on that," said the Delhi bowler, who last played a one-day international in August 2009.

Sharma's economy rate in the Twenty20 format is over eight and he has been spending quite some time with South African spearhead Dale Steyn to learn the art of containment.

"It's great to work with someone like Steyn. The good thing is he knows what needs to be done and is willing to share things on the field," said the bowler, who at 19 had tormented the Aussies in their own backyard in the 2007-08 test series.

Deccan Chargers' coach Darren Lehmann backs Sharma to come good.

"We forget Ishant is only 22. Our role here is to make him play for Deccan. But we've got to get him back to playing for India."

With the selectors watching almost every game, Sharma will have at least 12 more games to prove he is ready to win back his place in the national squad.