Zaheer Khan wants Ishant Sharma to spearhead India's bowling attack in England this time. Ishant is the only seamer among the six quickies in the current India squad to have played Test cricket in England before.
Ishant played four Tests in the disastrous tour of 2011 and took 11 wickets. India lost the series 4-0 and an injured Zaheer failed to lead the attack. Zaheer is not touring this time and feels the rather inexperienced bowling line-up needs Ishant as its 'captain.'
Speaking to ESPNCricinfo, Zaheer said: "It is Ishant who has played the most number of matches and he has been around for a while. It is time he steps into that role. For Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) and (Mohammed) Shami, it is their first (England) tour so they will look to Ishant and (bowling coach) Joe Dawes for inputs to perform in those conditions."
The first of the five-Test series starts at Nottingham on July 9 and India have already invited former Test captain Rahul Dravid to help with some batting tips. India's batsmen have shown early form during the rain-hit first warm-up match against Leicestershire.
In a drawn game, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara and Gautam Gambhir hit fifties but two Leicestershire batsmen smashed 100s against an Indian attack that looked ordinary. Although he picked up two late wickets, Ishant was rather ineffective against Leicestershire. Mohammed Shami looked impressive in his short spell and Zaheer feels the Bengal pacer should support Ishant well.
Zaheer was the senior bowler when the Indians toured New Zealand earlier this year. Both Shami and Ishant were part of the Kiwi tour. Ishant picked 15 wickets to emerge India's best.
"I was also impressed by someone like Mohammed Shami, who was able to perform the pace bowler's role very nicely," Zaheer said. "For a successful bowling unit you require a good fast bowler with very good pace and Shami has that. And that helped me cope with my workload.
"You do need a balanced bowling attack. You can't have bowlers with similar styles. It was a perfect combination we had, I felt. Ishant, being a very tall guy, adds that extra bounce on helpful pitches. If conditions are suitable for swing, I come in and also bring the experience."