Mumbai:Former spearhead Javagal Srinath on Friday said young pacer Ishant Sharma should be the strike bowler for India with Ashish Nehra in the absence of injured frontline speedster Zaheer Khan.
Brushing aside concerns that the gangling Delhi pacer was not in his elements, Srinath said, "Ishant is still a strike bowler. Ashish (Nehra) and Ishant should lead as strike bowlers in the absence of Zaheer. Ishant has good attitude and fitness."
Sharma, who has taken 52 wickets in 18 Tests and 42 wickets in 30 ODIs, has grabbed only five wickts while conceding 210 runs in the last five ODIs that he played in New Zealand and West Indies.
In three Tests this year in New Zealand the 21-year-old bowler claimed eight wickets while giving away 334 runs.
Srinath, who was here to conduct a two-day seminar for domestic match referees ahead of the season, also said the other Delhi pacer, 30-year-old Nehra, was a good substitute for Zaheer who is unavailable till the end of the year.
"Nehra is a good replacement for Zaheer," said the Bangalore stalwart who is on the seven-man ICC match referees panel.
Srinath said the absence of injured regular openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir would lead to changes in the top order.
"Gautam and Viru are pivotal. Their absence will bring in lot of changes at the top and somebody should step and face the challenge," he said.
Sehwag is out of action since May following a shoulder injury that needed surgery and is set to make his comeback in the Champions T20 League next month for Delhi Daredevils.
In-form Gambhir, set to partner Sachin Tendulkar at the top of the order in Sri Lanka, had to return on Thursday from the island nation after he was found to be unfit because of a groin injury. He has been advised rest for ten days.
Another Delhi player, flamboyant rookie Virat Kohli, has been sent as Gambhir's replacement.