Ishant Sharma, the find of the Australian tour, has to remain focused and disciplined and not fall prey to temptations, says chairman of selectors, Dilip Vengsarkar. “He would be playing a lot many matches for India in the coming season,” Vengsarkar told Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview of the lanky fast bowler. “The expectations from him without a doubt would be high each time he takes his run-up to bowl. A lot of talented players in the past fell for the temptations during their careers only to lose their focus on the game. I only hope that does not happen to Ishant.”
A trip to Australia is very demanding. How do you look back at the way the Indians performed in the Test series?
I think India’s performance in the Test series was outstanding. But for the Sydney fiasco, India could have squared the series. Mind you, the Indian team had only one side game to acclimatise to the conditions whereas the other touring teams organise a minimum of three games before they play the first Test match in Australia where bounce in the wickets is the key. But, the home series against the Pakistanis did not allow the players to rest and play more side games before the first Test match.
Is the 2-1 Test series loss for India a fair reflection of their performances or India did much better than what the result shows?
I feel India did much better than the ultimate result shows. If one goes by the recent performances of the touring teams to Australia, India’s performance, without a doubt, stands out.
Nobody gave India a chance to win in Perth, of all the places. And for India to win there after what all happened in Sydney the previous Test, did you ever think of such a performance?
I guess the incidents in the Sydney Test really spurred the team on. Before the tour, I had said that this Indian team had the best chance to win a series in Australia. I would never stick my neck out and say such a thing unless I was 100% confident. It was a test of character for Kumble and Co. and the entire team showed that if pushed in the corner, they would match the very best if not better them.
Where does that rate Anil Kumble the captain among all the other Indian captains?
He did an excellent job under the most trying circumstances. He showed a lot of maturity and motivated the players to raise the level of their game to beat the Aussies.
Having picked Virender Sehwag for the Tests, should he not have straightaway been made to open instead of playing him after two Tests? India did struggle with the opening combination in the Test series. Where lies the solution?
It’s not fair for me to comment on the team combination sitting in Mumbai. I guess the tour selection committee must have thought over it before deciding the final eleven.
You had picked the squad for Tests having faith in their performances. But there must have been some players who must have performed beyond expectations. Who were they?
I think Ishant Sharma has performed exceedingly well. We all knew that he had a huge potential but the way he performed in each outing, it was simply incredible.
How should he be handled so as to ensure that he stays focused, fit and performing?
Ishant is very young and I guess too much is happening too soon for him. I hope he remains focussed and disciplined as he would be playing a lot many matches for India in the coming season. The expectations from him without a doubt would be high each time he takes his run-up to bowl. A lot of talented players in the past fell for the temptations during their careers only to lose their focus on the game. I only hope that does not happen to Ishant.
Will Ishant bowl the same in Indian conditions?
I am sure he will, for he has added a couple of yards to his pace. Besides, once he develops physically in a year’s time, he would be one of the best in world cricket.
Sunil Gavaskar and the BCCI are in favour of banning sledging. How do you think such issues be solved? Are you also in favour of complete banning of sledging?
It has never been an issue with me....
How has Dhoni evolved as a captain in Australia? Has he lived up to the expectations of the selection committee?
Dhoni is fast maturing into a very good captain. He believes in his team and backs it to the hilt. He played some crucial innings for India in the one-dayers.
Is it right for Dhoni to criticise his players in the post match press conferences? Does he need to learn more as a captain in the way he has been handling his players publicly?
I never heard him criticising his players during the press meet. It was shown in such a way that he sounded as if he was criticising the players. That’s the way the TV channels edit the final product to create the controversy and thereby try and hike the TRP.