Hamilton: In the pack of fast bowlers that have played for India in this World Cup so far, Mohit Sharma is the 'little man'. He doesn't have the impressive fast bowler's physique like Umesh Yadav nor does he have the pace of Mohammed Shami. But he has held more than his own in the four matches so far with timely key wickets with surprising zip and bounce off the wicket.
Stephen Fleming swings his bat during a backyard cricket match at the Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, New Zealand yesterday. Pic/Getty Images for Tourism New Zealand
It was fitting that his coach at Chennai Super Kings, Stephen Fleming, while addressing the press at the Hobbiton Movie Set near Hamilton praised the improvement the 'little man' has shown in the last 18 months. "I've been very impressed with Mohit in the group" said the former New Zealand skipper, "I have seen Mohit's development closely and his work with Andy Bichel (bowling coach at CSK) has been impressive. He is fit and strong, and with the emotions of the World Cup, and good performances against Pakistan and South Africa which was great for the Indian side, he is confident (as well)," Fleming said.
Sharma provided India the crucial breakthrough by surprising Hashim Amla with a well-directed sharp bouncer and had a terrific hand in the run out of AB de Villiers, in the match against South Africa at the MCG. His ambling run-up and less than 6-foot height doesn't scare many batsmen but as he has shown in Indian domestic cricket over the last few years that he knows the knack of taking wickets by focusing on his strengths. He surprises batsmen not just with the height he generates, but the speed at which it gets to the other end because of the skid he gets with his bowling action.
Fleming thought that when Ishant Sharma went home (with injury), "there was a feeling that India's bowling being underdone." The bowling department was to be "one of India's weakness" in the tournament and he is impressed that they have "turned it around now in to one of their strengths. They are all up in the 140-145 mark and relishing the fact that they have got a bit of pace to bowl (with)."
Former New Zealand great Sir Richard Hadlee, was also at hand in Hobbiton, conceded that before the World Cup the fast bowlers of New Zealand, Australia and South Africa perhaps stood out from the rest of the teams in the tournament but with the kind of performances Mohit & Co, have delivered, they need to be included in that impressive group as well.
Even as India has outplayed all their opponents till now, Mohit is not satisfied. "As a unit we have performed well, all five of us. There is no limit to doing well. There is still a lot left to do."