Copying Zaheer’s action was a mistake, says Ishant

July 7th, 2011 - 7:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Rouseau (Dominica), July 7 (IANS) Ishant Sharma has overcome testing times when he was thinking “too much technical” about his bowling. Now that he is back among wickets, the lanky fast bowler confesses that in hindsight it was a mistake to try and copy teammate Zaheer Khan’s action.

Sharma, with 18 wickets, is the leading wicket-taker in the ongoing Test series against the West Indies. He has constantly troubled the batsmem with the pace and bounce he was known for when he burst onto the international scene in 2007. The Delhi lad took his 100th Test wicket in the second Test in Barbados.

Ishant, who was dropped from the World Cup winning Indian team due to indifferent form, says he he was unable to cope up with the pressure of expectations after his initial success.

Now he has started to feel good about his bowling again.

“The rhythm is back. The important thing is, I am now enjoying my bowling. I visualise every ball and what I need to do. I focus on my strengths. I believe in my strengths more now - the pace and bounce. The last one and a half years have been up and down. I struggled a lot. I would just like this form to continue,” Ishant told ESPNcricinfo.

Ishant’s ticket to fame in international cricket came during the controversial Australia tour in 2008. After being a regular in the side for the next two years, Sharma faced the axe during New Zealand tour of India last year.

The 22-year-old recalls what went wrong at that time.

“I was trying to copy Zaheer Khan’s action. No doubt he is a great bowler, but I guess I shouldn’t have tried to copy his action. We are entirely different in styles. Zaheer told me that I am too much into the technical side of things and that I shouldn’t be. Now I just stick to my basics and my strengths. When I started, I was just looking to enjoy and bowl fast. Slowly the expectations grew, my responsibility in the team grew, and I didn’t know how to handle that pressure.

“I was forgetting my natural strength of bounce and hitting the deck. When I bowl with my natural style, the ball automatically starts to inswing. I should have just stuck to my strong point. It was my greatest mistake.

“I wanted to swing it from a fuller length and in trying to do that I was copying his action. I thought I could copy his action release, just to get my length fuller. The way I ran, the action, the whole thing was affected.”

Sharma reveals how he came out of the struggling phase that gave him many sleepless nights.

“I met a man, Ramesh sir, during this IPL. He told me how to think positive, do meditation, visualisations, how to focus on your own strengths. He taught me to be strong mentally. It helped.

“Then I spoke to Zaheer in the IPL. He talked to me about the importance of training. That has really helped me. I didn’t much go to the gym earlier. I went to the National Cricket Academy where they made a training schedule for me: what muscles I should develop and which ones I load more in my bowling style. That systematic training helped and I am sticking to it.”

When asked about his goal, Sharma said: “It is to play 100 Test matches for India and take as many wickets as possible. To play 100 Tests it will take 10 years. I hope my body lasts that long.”

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