Bangalore, Sep 24: India's fast bowler Ishant Sharma is back in first-class cricket. After undergoing ankle surgery in March, the tall paceman is fully fit and is preparing for the Test series against England at home in November.
The 24-year-old is currently playing for Rest of India in Irani Cup at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. He is bowling at good pace against Rajasthan. He took 2/17 in 12 overs in first innings.
In an exclusive interview with ThatsCricket, Ishant spoke on his return to cricket, being a fast bowler, competition for India slots and on how India will fare without retired stalwarts Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.
Question: You are playing in a first-class match after eight months, are you fully fit now and how has it been bowling here?
Ishant Sharma: Yes (I am 100 per cent fit). As you can see, I was bowling in right areas. I was back in my rhythm and am feeling confident now. I was feeling good out there.
Q: Were you frustrated at missing out on all cricket action during your injury layoff?
Ishant: I don't think I am frustrated at not having played for eight months because that was my decision to have a surgery. I don't think you need to get frustrated about it. I am more than happy to have had the surgery. It is good for me. I know my body very well.
Q: Is home series against England in November your target to get back to Indian team?
Ishant: Yes, that is what we have been preparing for. I will try to get back and do well in that series.
Q: Is it difficult being a fast bowler on Indian pitches?
Ishant: You can't say that it is difficult. There is something for the fast bowlers (on Indian pitches). It's all about how mentally tough you are (while playing in India). If it is difficult to be a fast bowler in India, then no one told you to become one. Because you wanted to be a paceman, you became a fast bowler. It is no point in saying that is bad luck I became a fast bowler. It is your choice. For me, it is nothing like that. I have always enjoyed being a fast bowler for the country.
Q: With four Tests scheduled against New Zealand and more cricket coming up next year, your bowling workload will be more. Are you ready for it?
Ishant: Workload has always been more. It's all about how you take it. You have to take it as a positive sign instead of worrying about the workload.
Q: There is a lot of competition for fast bowling slots. How do you look at this?
Ishant: It is always good to have a healthy competition in every department either it is fast bowling or batting.
Q: With the retirements of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, do you think India will struggle when playing abroad?
Ishant: I think you can't comment on all these things (whether India will struggle or not). First we need to focus on the home series against England. First, they have to get us out on our tracks. Then we can think on how we will fare in their conditions.
Q: How has been the help from India's bowling coach Joe Dawes?
Ishant: I have been working on few things on my bowling. I worked with him for just one series. Hopefully I will continue to work with him and keep improving.