Ishant Sharma said that Mahendra Singh Dhoni backed him a lot during the pacer’s formative years with the national squad. “When I played under Mahi bhai, he always backed me. There were times that I was supposed to get dropped but I didn’t get dropped,” said Ishant in a media round table organised by his Indian Premier League side Delhi Capitals.
He was asked what the difference is between the captaincy styles of Dhoni and current skipper Virat Kohli. “He (Dhoni) is a great asset for the team. He helps the captain. He is a legend. You can’t express in words what he means to the team,” said Ishant.
“In case of Virat, being a senior member of the team, he always comes up to me and would tell me ‘I know you are tired, fatigued but you need to carry on. I have confidence in you’,” he said.
Over the last two years, Ishant Sharma has seen his role in the Indian limited overs setup diminishing while becoming an integral part of the Test squad at the same time. The 30-year-old who was last seen in the national setup as part of the pace attack that tormented Australia’s batsmen in India’s series win Down Under, believes that him being stereotyped as a Test specialist is down to perception more than any other factor.
“Yes I think perception has played a big part in me not being in limited overs set-up. I still don’t know where these perceptions come from,” Ishant said. “It is something that players have been dealing with to be honest but I don’t know frankly that from where these perceptions emerge. They give us tags like “he is a Test bowler”, “he is a T20 bowler”, white ball bowler, red ball bowler and so on,” said Ishant.
Ishant believes that anyone who can do well in the longest format can also reciprocate that form in the shorter forms. “Whoever can do well in red-ball cricket can do well in any format. That’s the basic of all cricket that we play. All you need to do is back your varieties that you have with the white ball. If I do well in this format, I am sure I can be that fourth seamer going into the World Cup. Indian team is still looking at a fourth seamer,” said Ishant.
Asked if he had any communication with the chairman of selectors MSK Prasad, Ishant made it clear that he doesn’t believe in going to a selector to seek an explanation. “To be very honest, I would never go up and speak to anyone. I would always blame myself and be harsh on myself. I will never go and try to get a reason from anyone. I will always take blame on me. I don’t blame someone else that they didn’t select me and crib about it,” he said.
He thanked Sussex coach Jason Gillespie for backing him during his short four-match county stint. “It was tiring to bowl 300 overs in four games but I developed proper control over my line and length. Bowling to different batsmen also helped me improve as a bowler,” he said.
“Dizz was pretty good with me. He always gave me confidence and even if I didn’t have a good day on the field, he backed me. He would tell me that you are the best one to judge, which length to bowl to a certain batsman.”