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Ishant faces up to challenge on Aussie tour

India paceman Ishant Sharma hails the presence of senior fast bowler Khan even as he comes face-to-face with the challenges his second tour of Australia throws at him

As a teenager on the 2007-08 tour of Australia, Ishant Sharma impressed even the most die-hard of Australian fans with his pace and skill. Ricky Ponting will never forget the torrid time the tall Delhi fast bowler gave him.


Ishant Sharma celebrates the wicket of Ricky Ponting on Day Four of the
Perth Test at the WACA on January 19, 2008. Pic/Getty Images


This time, Ishant  is older and wiser although some pundits may reckon he is not the same force he was in 2007-08.


Zaheer Khan

Excerpts from a chat:

Memories of the 2007-08 tour of Australia:
I have lots of memories. I went on the tour as a raw bowler and returned a finished product. People came to know me after that tour, they talked about my bowling and it had to be a positive experience for me. I am really excited to go back there again.

The Perth Test which India won:
How can I forget Perth? This city gave me my real identity after my performance there. Laxmanbhai (VVS) always says that Kolkata is his first home and Sydney is second. I would say that Delhi is my first home and Perth is second.

The injury factor:
Lots of things have happened since the last tour to Australia, especially in my case. I suffered a lot of injuries and I was unable to perform consistently. Not being part of the 2011 World Cup squad was painful but then, injuries are part and parcel of the game. You cannot have a bad time for 365 days in your life. I believe if you get one good opportunity, grab it and perform well.    

On the importance of having Zaheer Khan back in the attack:
Zakbhai has always been a mentor for us. When he's on the field, we never feel alone in the bowling department. He is always encouraging us and if we slip up, he is quick in contributing to rectify the problem. We missed him a lot on the last England tour (Zaheer limped off on Day One of the opening Test at Lord's). When he was not part of the squad during the recent home series against the West Indies, we wondered how we would win the series. It makes a lot of difference when a senior bowler is sharing the new ball with you.

On the inexperienced Australian team:
You cannot say they are raw. And with Australia, this is never the case! Everyone knows how strong they are. Sure, it's a different team than the one in 2007-08. Guys like Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden were explosive players, but their young players have been performing well too. That they are part of the national squad means they are the best available talent. To beat Australia in Australia is very tough for any team in the world. They are a completely different team on home soil.

On his preparation for the Australia tour:
I have been waiting for this tour for a long time. There are a lot of expectations from me because I had done a good job on my last tour there. My last overseas tour -- to England --was not a good one, but I am charged up now. I have different plans for each and every batsman. I believe if you give 100 per cent, you will
definitely get results.

On the relishing prospect of bowling on Australian wickets:
Australian tracks provide huge support to pace bowlers. Whatever talent you have as a good pace bowler, you can put to use on those wickets. Generally, Indian bowlers bowl at 130 to 135 kmph, but on a Perth wicket, your speed can reach up to 160 kmph if you bowl tactfully. But if you make mistakes, you pay dearly too.

On whether the Mahi factor can help India win their first Test series in Australia:
You never know. But one thing's for sure -- if you can play good cricket, you can get better results. Every team undertakes a tour to win. If you play well as unit, you can get the best outcome.

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