Ishant Sharma’s 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) journey became problem-ridden even before it started. The senior India pacer was not picked by any team in the auction, and it was a late call-up by Kings XI Punjab that saw him playing in the T20 tournament.
And, it’s not only the IPL, the 28-year-old Ishant has not been part of the Indian ODI team for more than a year, while he last played the T20Is in 2013.
In the IPL, his economical show in matches against Kolkata Knight Riders, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians was overshadowed by the fact that he went wicket-less in all the games he played. Ishant acknowledges that he has not been as effective in the limited-overs format but adds that he has been the target of some harsh criticism, for failing in a few matches.
Currently playing alongside pacers like Sandeep Sharma, Mohit Sharma and T Natarajn, Ishant opens up on his IPL campaign and his role as a senior bowler.
Q: You are a senior bowler in KXIP, which has several other pacers like Sandeep, Mohit, T Natarajan. How do you see your role?
A: As someone who has played more international cricket than other pacers in my team, there is obviously more responsibility. We keep reminding each other about the plan for a particular batsman. But, frankly, when the boundary is 50m and the wickets are flat, the bowlers are always at a disadvantage. 200 runs are being made in 20 overs, and everyone points fingers at the bowlers.
Q: So, bowlers have minimal role to play in T20s?
A: If you are bowling in Powerplays, most of the time you will go for runs. So, a bowler should keep backing his strength and focus on it. Thinking about what the batsman is going to do doesn’t help.
Q: How do you take criticism then?
A: It all depends on what you are thinking about yourself, rather than what others are thinking about you. I always believe in myself. It doesn’t matter what other are saying about me. If we do well, people will say good things, if we do poorly, we get criticised. That’s the life of a professional sportsman.
Q: You have, for long, been labelled as only a Test material. How do you see it?
A: In an earlier interview, I had said that I haven’t done well in T20s. It was interpreted in a wrong way. It doesn’t mean that I should be stamped with the tag that I want to play only Tests and not other formats. This is the worst thing in India; if you play badly in two-three matches or a series, you are thought to be fit for only one format.
Q: Have you tried to add new aspects to your bowling while playing in the IPL?
A: You don’t have much time to develop new skills in IPL. There are back-to-back matches. So, it’s difficult. But we have been trying to add new thing in every game. Today, facilities are great and everybody has information about your stock deliveries because of video analysis. So, I try to keep adding on.
Q: How do you see India’s pace line-up in Champions Trophy consisting Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar?
A: All of them are good. They have been doing well. Most importantly they are confident as well as experienced.