Ishant Sharma kept providing India with breakthroughs on the second day of the first Test even as New Zealand took lead in Wellington on Saturday. That he was sleep deprived, struggling with jet-lag made his effort even more commendable.

He struck twice in an otherwise one-sided second session to get rid of New Zealand openers and then surprised a fluent Ross Taylor with extra bounce to have him caught on 44. He bowled 15 overs and took three wickets in them as the hosts ended the day at 216/5, ahead by 51 runs.

“I am not happy because I have not slept for two days and I was struggling a lot today (with my body),” Ishant said after the day’s play ended a bit early due to bad light. “The way I would have liked to bowl, it did not happen. They asked me to play and I played. Anything, for the team.

Ishant passed a fitness test days ahead of the first Test and flew 24 hours before arriving in New Zealand to join India squad. And then he had just 72 hours to get acclimatised to the conditions and get over the jet-lag before taking field for the first Test at Basin Reserve.

“Not that I wasn’t happy with my bowling. I wasn’t happy with my body as I could only sleep for 40 minutes last night and day before the Test match, I slept for three hours,” he said.

He added, “The more you can recover (from jet lag), the better effort you can put in on the ground. There’s no better recovery than sound sleep. The sounder your sleep is, the better your body will respond on ground.”

Ishant had lost hopes of playing in the ongoing two-match Test series in New Zealand after suffering multiple ligament tears in his right ankle during a Ranji Trophy match.

“All credit goes to NCA support staff as they worked really hard with me. We never really thought I have to play a Test because my MRI shows I had a complete ligament tear, not one but two tears. People said ‘he is out for six weeks’,” he said.

He, though, kept an open mind during his rehabilitation process. “I didn’t have any target that I have to play a Test. I thought ‘okay, if it’s possible to play, I will play but if it’s not, there’s hardly anything I could have done’. Because the way I got injured, I don’t think it had happened with anyone. But if you are destined to get injured, you can slip in toilet too,” he quipped leaving everyone is splits.

Explaining how to deemed himself fit to bowl in Test cricket again, Ishant said, “I bowled 21 overs in two days at NCA and I got to know I am fit and that’s why I came here and bowled one and half hours to check if I am alright. After travelling for almost 24 hours, it took a big toll on the body.”

New Zealand looked in complete control of the match in the second session despite Ishant’s two strikes and the pacer attributed it to lack of any assistance to the bowlers.

“It was not reversing. Actually, nothing was happening. I was not holding the ball on seam and trying different things. Kookabura after 40 or 50 overs, seam really gets soft, so you need to come hard and hit the length very hard. I started bowling cross seam,” he said.

He continued, “Actually, wicket became slow. It had tennis ball bounce at the start but when we bowled, there was no seam movement. Also for first timers, problem in Wellington is getting used to wind which is a big factor. People actually have little idea how to bowl with or against wind.”

New Zealand still have five wickets remaining and already taken 51-run lead but Ishant says India are capable of making a comeback. “We have confidence that we can make a comeback. That has been the speciality of this team,” he said.