Auckland: He might have been under the scanner for a while now due to poor form, but India's pacer Ishant Sharma, who today reached the milestone of 150 Test wickets, said he was happy with the way he has been bowling.
Ishant took two for 62 on the opening day of the first Test match against New Zealand here, accounting for the wickets of Hamish Rutherford and Ross Taylor with the former becoming the 150th victim in his 54th Test for India.
Ishant Sharma. Pic/ AFP
"It is a big achievement for me to get 150 wickets in Tests. I think I have been bowling well. I was bowling well in the Tests in South Africa too and I don't think I have to worry about my rhythm. The way I am bowling at the moment, I am very happy," said Ishant after the day's play.
Despite Ishant and Zaheer Khan (2/98) taking two wickets each, New Zealand reached a position of strength as they finished the opening day on 329 for four, riding on centuries from skipper Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson.
New Zealand had a disastrous morning session where they lost three early wickets for just 30 runs on the board and Ishant claimed two of those scalps.
"We bowled in the right areas throughout the day, but you have to give credit to the batsmen. They played really well. The wicket got better as the day progressed, particularly after lunch. On such wickets you need to be patient and keep bowling in the good areas. That is what we did," he said.
"Our intensity didn't drop throughout the day. We did not let their run-rate go high at any point. It was always under control. Even as the wicket got flat and the ball got old, we kept bowling in the right areas. When the wicket goes flat, you have to be patient and see how to create pressure," Ishant added.
New Zealand's cause was helped by four dropped catches, including those dropped by Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay on either side of the lunch break. But Ishant played it down, saying that was part and parcel of the game.
"Obviously, as a bowler you feel bad when catches are dropped off your bowling. But that is part and parcel of the game. You cannot control all these things. The only thing you can control is to keep bowling a consistent line and length. Getting the batsmen out is our job and that is what we are trying to do," Ishant explained.
"They played some good shots. We bowled enough bouncers and they kept on playing the pull over the top of the keeper and the slip cordon. You can't control all this," he said.
The medium-pacer has had a tough time recently when he was dropped from the final three ODIs of the five-match series, which the Men in Blue lost 0-4.
"You have to know how to move on if you are a professional cricketer. Yes, we lost the ODIs and we felt bad that we lost but it is very important to move on. You have to keep up your mindset and hope to keep representing your country. You want to do well for your country and teammates, and that is the attempt always," Ishant signed off.