London: Kapil Dev, Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan were more like lone rangers during their best days but India now has a pool of eight to nine fast bowlers, which make them a formidable Test outfit, feels senior-most speedster Ishant Sharma.
With 238 wickets in 82 Test matches, Ishant is the most capped player in the longest version and along with Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami would pose challenge for the likes of Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow when India face England in the upcoming five Test series, starting 1 August.
"Everybody used to say that India can't produce fast bowlers. Now we have probably eight to nine good fast bowlers, anytime who can play Test cricket for India. We have a pretty good chance to win a series in England and Australia, because of the kind of attack we have," Ishant told Daily Telegraph in an interview.
In a lighter vein, Ishant said: "Whatever I choose is my choice, so I can't really blame anyone why I didn't become a spinner and why I'm a fast bowler," Sharma jokes. "Fast bowling, obviously it's a difficult thing to do, a lot of toll on your body. But it's a really enjoyable thing as well. It tests your character, tests your strength. It's really good for me to be a fast bowler. Even in India I'm still happy."
Ishant played a massive role in India's only Test victory during the 2014 series when he took 7 for 74 in the second innings at Lord's.
"The weather is so nice (in England), you can bowl long spells, the conditions are helpful. The ball is nice, the wicket is favourable. There's a lot of difference between bowling in England and India," Ishant said.
Having been a part of Indian dressing room for a period of 11 years, Ishant has seen virtual transformation in training methods, a testimony to which is one of the fittest Indian teams of recent times.
Talking about the initial part of his career, Ishant said, I was not the one who really believed in training. I didn't have too much knowledge about training. So I wasn't training that much. When I went home, I was not doing anything. Just relaxing. I think that's the point, I changed my life and improved my cricket skill level.
"We have become so much fitter because there is so much knowledge, and there is so much contribution from everyone. If you want to play a good amount of cricket for the country, you need to work hard. You can't just bowl or just bat. You need to go into the gym, go running, look after your recovery system, your diet and everything," he said stating that it's not just anymore about merely bowling his overs.
By his own admission, Ishant, who is now a month short of 30, has matured as a bowler from the time he first came into the Indian team.
"Earlier I was really raw. I didn't know much about bowling — I would just bowl fast. Now I know like, what the batsman is doing, how is the weather, how the wicket is going to behave, then after how many overs what you need to do and everything. You need to adapt, and bowl according to the situation.
"I'm not really the kind of guy who likes to give up on things, so I'm really hard on myself," he says. "I'm the kind of a person, when the things are really tough I really want to take it on. Sometimes he has to keep on going till the time I don't get what I want."
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