Wellington: After taking his career-best haul in Tests, India's Ishant Sharma on Friday said that he has been bowling well consistently for some time but his performance was being noticed only now because he is among wickets recently.
Ishant took 6 for 51 on the first day of the second Test against New Zealand, his second consecutive six-wicket haul in this series, after taking 6-134 in the first innings at Auckland. He went on to take nine wickets in that match, which India lost by 40 runs. Ishant's bowling at the Basin Reserve, Wellington on Friday reminded cricket lovers of the way he troubled Ricky Ponting on the tour of Australia in 2007-08. (Read: Wellington Test Day 1 report)
"I am the same bowler who bowled against (Ricky) Ponting in 2007-08 and the same bowler who was man-of-the-series in 2011. I am the same bowler. This pitch is the same as last match. I don't analyze my bowling a lot, because at this stage, ahead of the game it is only about mental thinking," Ishant told media after his superb bowling effort on Day 1. (Read: Ishant sets Indian record for best performance in a series vs New Zealand)
When asked, if playing 70-odd ODIs and 55 Tests had helped make him a better bowler, he replied, "You only learn from experience. I have seen enough ups and downs in my life. Whenever there is an important tour, I get dropped. Whenever there is an easy tour, I am in the team. It's a really hard thing for me." (Day 1 highlights)
"I have been bowling well since South Africa. It is just that people are recognizing more now, because I am taking more wickets. I didn't do anything different. Just looked to bowl in the right areas, in fact we all did, we all bowled very well. Only (Mohammad) Shami and I got the rewards. Zaheer (Khan) was very unlucky to not take any wickets," he added. (Day 1 pics)
Shami took 4-70 to provide able support to the one-change bowler and together they routed New Zealand for a paltry score of 192 runs in their first innings. This was after skipper MS Dhoni won his seventh straight toss on the tour and elected to bowl first on a very green wicket.
"It was obviously good to win the toss. The wicket had a spongy bounce and it was a juicy wicket in the morning. We were disciplined in our bowling today. In the first innings at Auckland, we got a bit carried away looking at the fresh pitch. But we learnt from the second innings there that if we bowl with discipline, we will get more rewards. And that's what we did today, looking to bowl in the right areas, rather than take wickets," said Ishant.
"I will do whatever the team needs me to do. This is a team sport. If they see me fit as a one-change bowler or any other role, wherever they can see that I fit in their plans, I will do that," he added, talking about coming on a one-change bowler regularly.
At the end of the day, India were placed comfortably at 100 for 2, thanks to Shikhar Dhawan's unbeaten 71 runs. Ishant had come out as a night watchman and faced some hostile bowling, but was unbeaten as well. "The wicket is a bit better now. The ball is coming on to the bat. The ball isn't moving around a lot, atleast not as long as I batted. But obviously the Kookaburra ball moves a lot when it is new," opined Ishant.
"We are very happy with how Shikhar (Dhawan) batted today. Even (Cheteshwar) Pujara, even if he didn't get too many runs, he hung in there. Tomorrow, we will try to get as many runs as possible," he said.