Image courtesy of: The Hindu
Sharma played a crucial role in India’s Champions Trophy triumph
India pace bowler Ishant Sharma has announced that he has been looking forward to the national team’s tour of South Africa for some time now and is ready to assume the role as India’s “spearhead” bowler.
The 25-year-old will be heavily relied upon during the series, which starts in November, due to the assistance fast bowlers get from South African pitches.
“I love being the spearhead of the Indian bowling attack and it is a privilege for any fast bowler,” he told the Times of India. “At the same time it is better not to think about these things and stay focused. Yes, I have to be ready for India’s big tour of South Africa, but before that we also have the Champions League T20 and the ODIs against the Aussies.”
Sharma last 18 months has been turbulent to say the least, especially after having undergone ankle surgery in March 2012 and not being able to regain his spot in the national team until veteran seamer Zaheer Khan was dropped for the Test series against England in December last year.
Since then, Sharma has been India’s “spearhead” and go-to bowler, especially when the team are struggling to get a wicket.
In February this year, Sharma consulted a specialist after his ankle troubles resurfaced, but after being given the green light to continue playing, he has been unstoppable and was one of the key ingredients in helping India win the last ever Champions Trophy.
Speaking about what he has learnt since succumbing to his devastating ankle injury, Sharma said: “Fast bowling is about having the requisite strength and I need to gain strength. I have to build on my speed and endurance. I’m following the fitness regimen devised by the coaches at the National Cricket Academy and I am working quite hard. I go to the gym in the morning then break for lunch and return to bowling in the afternoons. I also go for swimming and take ice baths after rigorous training sessions.”
Since he replaced Khan in the ODI squad in August last year, Sharma has taken 30 wickets in 18 matches at an impressive average of 25.50.
However, he has not enjoyed the same success at the Test level, where he has only amassed 11 wickets in six matches.
“In my first three years of international cricket, I grew under Zak [Zaheer Khan],” Sharma said. “Whatever I am is because of him.
“He taught me how to bowl. Everything that I do on the field is what I learnt from him. It will be great to have him back.”