Ishant Sharma said he has not met a better coach than Ricky Ponting as the Australian legend made him feel wanted from the word go in his Indian Premier League (IPL) comeback last year. After going unsold in the 2018 auction, Ishant was bought by Delhi Capitals ahead of the 2019 IPL edition. The veteran bowler felt like a ‘debutant’ on day one of the Delhi Capitals camp until head coach Ponting’s words lifted his spirits.

“He’s the best coach I’ve ever met. I was very nervous when I was making a return to the IPL last season. I was almost feeling like a debutante walking into the camp the first day, but he gave me a lot of confidence since the first day I arrived at the Delhi Capitals’ camp,” said Ishant, a veteran of 97 Tests, during a recent Instagram Live session for his IPL franchise Delhi Capitals.

He also revealed that Ponting has asked him to helo the youngsters. “He just told me, ‘You’re a senior player and you should help the youngsters. Just don’t worry about anything – you’re my first choice.’ And I think that bit of conversation really helped me,” the experienced pacer added.

Speaking of the time when he got the better of the Australian legend, in 2008, Ishant said, “People still talk and ask me about the Perth Test, and the spell I bowled to him. Later that year when Australia visited India too, I was in great form. Gary (Kirsten) was our coach then, and he told me that the Australians play only to win, which is why a performance against them, even on home soil, counts a lot, and would help me get noticed. That success I had against them in 2008 is easily one of the highlights of my career.”

The 31-year-old was asked about the potential changes that could take place in cricket going forward. “We know there are talks of some changes and adjustments in cricket, but I feel cricketers will have to get used to the new normal, whatever that is. The ball may not shine as per your liking if you are not allowed to use saliva, or you may have to go and fetch the ball yourself during nets but there is no option but to get used to these things,” said Ishant.

“But honestly I don’t like to think about these things too much. I feel it is important to stay in the present and not look too far ahead,” said the pacer.

Ishant was also seen talking about his first season with the Delhi Capitals which saw him pick 13 wickets in as many matches. “I didn’t watch the IPL auction last time but I was overjoyed when I heard I had been picked up by the Delhi Capitals. Apni state, apni state hoti hai. I knew with Ricky as coach, and playing for my home city, it was going to be a really nice experience. We all wanted to win the trophy, but we will go again next time we get the chance,” said the Indian.

Speaking about the lockdown, he mentioned that at first it was frustrating for him, but soon he began to change his schedule and adhered to it, crediting discipline as his primary focus.