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HindustanTimes Sat,12 Jul 2014
Understated Ishant finds NZ wickets to his liking
HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Wellington, February 14, 2014
First Published: 13:14 IST(14/2/2014)
Last Updated: 07:34 IST(15/2/2014)

For all his ability, Ishant Sharma's career has seen more lows than highs since his India debut in 2007, and he is justifiably regarded as an enigma. Despite possessing the height and ability to hit the deck, and having produced some telling spells of swing and reverse swing, he can also be infuriatingly inconsistent.

It has been no different on this New Zealand tour. His ODI form was poor when India desperately needed him to stand up and be counted. In fact, when skipper MS Dhoni pulled up his bowlers during the ODI series, calling them to use their brains, it was seen as an indictment of the bowler as well.

However, he has been a different bowler in the Tests. After India's pacers let New Zealand off the hook with too many short-pitched deliveries in the first Test at Auckland, he has led the visitors' fightback. He bowled a marathon spell to claim six wickets in the first innings at Eden Park and then removed three more as India skittled out New Zealand in their second innings.

On the first day of the second Test, conditions were perfect for seamers. Ishant hardly put a foot wrong. On a green wicket where pitching it too far up or short would have been put away, Ishant bowled just short of length to invite mistakes from the batsmen. The moment he walked in for the press conference, it was obvious he had not taken kindly to the observations about him by the media.

After grabbing nine wickets in the first Test at Auckland, he has already taken his tally for the series to 15. Asked what has contributed to the change, he chided the media. "I have been bowling well since south Africa. People are just recognising it now because I am taking wickets."

When he is in good rhythm, the 25-year-old can be a handful, and has produced a few telling spells in the past. His spell to former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting, in Australia as well as in India, and his efforts at the Basin Reserve have raised hopes of salvaging a victory.

But Ishant chided the media for merely focusing on the wickets column. "Everyone bowled in good areas but I got the rewards and so did Shami. Zak pa (Zaheer Khan) was unlucky that he didn't get one."

Ishant admitted bowling in the first innings in Auckland wasn't disciplined. "Maybe we got a bit carried away…but in the second innings we learnt that if we bowl with discipline, we will get more rewards. That's what we did today."


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