After enduring a lay-off of more than six months due to an ankle injury, Ishant Sharma has clambered back into contention for a berth in the Indian team.
Since making his comeback in the Irani Trophy game last month, the 24-year-old fast bowler has shown sparks of pugnacity that once characterised his bowling.
Ishant followed up his four-wicket haul for India ‘A’ against Bengal in the Challenger Trophy with a blazing spell (four for 29) for North Zone in the Duleep Trophy quarterfinal against West Zone in Chennai.
In an interaction with journalists after the match concluded here on Tuesday, the Delhi lad spoke about the tough times he went through during the injury and the subsequent operation, how he has evolved mentally and physically, learning to bowl the outswinger, and his equation with India’s bowling coaches.
Surgery and rehabilitation: I gave it a lot of thought [undergoing the ankle surgery] before going ahead with it. Missing the IPL was my decision and I don’t have any complaints.
The fact that I had time for myself helped. As part of my rehabilitation, I was in the NCA (National Cricket Academy) for three months, training from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. I worked on my body and gained strength. There were several long and tough sessions but I guess hard work pays off.
A changed Ishant? I still continue to bowl with the same kind of intensity. Bowling a lot in the nets has helped. I have also learnt to bowl the outswinger.
Lessons learnt: I think I am mentally and physically much stronger now after having gone through the worst phase of my life.
Nobody asked me where I was (when he was out of the team with injury). In a way, it’s good that it (injury) happened to me. But my family and friends have been very supportive.
Branded as a Test specialist: It does bother me that I am not part of the limited-overs sides because I would love to play all the three formats.
Present and former bowling coaches: It was Joe Dawes [present bowling coach of India] who taught me the outswinger during the New Zealand series recently. [Former India bowling coach] Eric Simmons was also very helpful. They never imposed anything on me.
Flat wickets: Pitches have always been flat in India, so you can’t do much about that. But I won’t compromise on pace.
Support from teammates: I was in touch with Viru paaji [Virender Sehwag], Gautam [Gambhir] paaji, and [V.V.S] Laxman paaji. I spoke to Zak [Zaheer Khan] paaji as well when I was at the NCA. It’s always good to receive support from senior players.
The road ahead: I am fully fit and looking forward to doing well in the Duleep Trophy and Ranji Trophy. Hopefully, I will find a place in the Indian XI during the England series.
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