India vs Australia 2013: I have a defensive role with the new ball, says Ishant Sharma

By Kushan Sarkar

New Delhi: Mar 21, 2013

India‘s pace spearhead Ishant Sharma says he has been assigned to play a defensive role with the new ball considering swing bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar‘s ability to strike early blows.

Ishant felt he is a completely different bowler compared to his new ball partner as they have different skill sets.

“My bowling is different from Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar’s nickname). He is more effective with the new ball as he can get a lot of swing. I don’t get a lot of swing with the new ball in Indian conditions. So I need to wait for the ball to get old so that I can get some reverse swing,” Ishant said.

“Till the time the ball gets old, I have to play the defensive role of trying to contain the batsmen. Everyone has been assigned a specific role and we perform our roles accordingly,” Ishant told reporters on the eve of the fourth and final cricket Test against Australia.

In the absence of India’s best exponent of reverse swing Zaheer Khan, Ishant is the senior most pacer and he explained as to why he is more effective with the old ball.

“If you watch a Test match in India, during the initial stages, it’s not favourable for swing bowling and you need to play a defensive game. Once the ball starts reversing, you can then set attacking fields but it’s more important to know when to attack on sub-continental tracks.”

Ishant said he got to bowl more overs in Mohali, which was the reason for tasting a bit of success during the third Test.

“In the first two matches, the spinners got almost all the wickets and I didn’t bowl much. It was only in Mohali that I got to bowl 30 overs. Before that my job was to contain the batsmen and let the spinners attack.

“Bowling is also like batting. You hunt as a pack. Just like you need a good partnership while batting, it’s the same with bowling. If you are bowling well, even if you don’t get a wicket, it might help your bowling partner get wickets from the other end.”

Asked to comment on the Kotla strip, Ishant’s answer was: “Wickets are same everywhere.”

Ishant remained tightlipped about whether Ajinkya Rahane would be making his Test debut in the capital.

“There hasn’t been any discussions on that. We have a team meeting in the evening.”

The lanky pacer also refrained from commenting on the off-field problems that have plagued the Australian team since the start of the third Test.

“Well, it is their (Australian team) internal matter. They have to handle their issues and address them. We are focussed on executing our game plans to perfection. Our focus should be on our performance rather than thinking about them,” he replied.

The 3-0 lead has certainly lifted the morale of the side and Ishant said, “The dressing room is really upbeat and we are taking a lot of confidence from the 3-0 lead that we have so far.”

There had been talks about India winning on designer pitches and Ishant’s response to that was, “When we went to Australia and struggled there, we were criticised that we can’t play well overseas but now Australia aren’t able to play well here. It’s just that everyone enjoys home conditions.”

The Indian team has copped a lot of flak for losing eight overseas Test matches but Ishant felt it’s more about giving 100 per cent rather than thinking about the outcome.

“There are times when we have played well but haven’t won. So the important thing is to give hundred per cent and not think too much about the outcome. Our endeavour is to work hard and again get back the No. 1 ranking in Tests.”

Ishant also wished speedy recovery to the injured Shikhar Dhawan, who will miss the match with a fractured left knuckle.

“I felt really bad that Shikhar will have to sit out after a dream debut. But injuries are part and parcel of a player’s life and you can’t really help it. I hope that he quickly recovers and is back in the team,” he said.