Injury problems could put and end to the international careers of cricketers. Ishant Sharma was so close to calling it quits in the ODI format before deciding against it. The 6'4" tall pacer now hopes that IPL 7 can give him the much-needed confidence to take it forward to the highest level of the game.
After the 2007-08 Australia tour, Steve Waugh famously stated that Ishant was the next big thing in Indian cricket. Bowling at a constant 140kmph, he was kept aside due to injuries. The Champions Trophy 2013 almost provided a glimpse of the promising Ishant the world knew but that did not last as he had a mediocre ODI series that followed - in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. That poor phase did not help him get through to the recently concluded World T20.
"It was a setback for me when I did not do well for the country or when I was not selected," Ishant said. "You feel bad when you are not part of the T20 World Cup. It is a big tournament. But it is not in my hand. If I am playing Test cricket or wherever I am playing, I have to do well in those conditions and that particular format.
"I am looking forward to do well in the new season. I am bowling well. I am in good rhythm. I played in domestic Twenty20, bowled well, took some wickets. I am confident with my bowling and hopefully I will do well for the Sunrisers this time as well."
The major plus for Ishant in the previous season was bowling alongside Dale Steyn - probably the most feared fast bowler at the moment alongside Mitchell Johnson - and getting invaluable inputs from bowling coach Waqar Younis. He picked up 15 wickets in 16 matches in IPL 6, and though not retained, was bought back for $400,000 for IPL 7.
"Dale gives his plans and we set fields accordingly," Ishant said. "That helps a fast bowler. It feels really great. I have learnt a lot from him."
The first phase of IPL 7 will be held in the UAE. Speaking of the pitch conditions and atmosphere, Ishant said he expects all Asian wickets to behave similarly.
"I think the wicket will be the same," Ishant added. "It does not matter whether you play in India or UAE, the wicket will be the same in Asia. You should know where you need to bowl in the T20 format. You don't need to see how the wicket is going to behave. You just need to execute your plans well."
What's ahead for India is an arduous five-Test tour in England, and the selection committee will surely keep an eye out for a couple of promising and in-form fast bowlers. Ishant, though not willing to take any pressure, will also be keen to make the best of the opportunity.
"I don't set personal goals for myself," Ishant said. "Because in doing so you end up putting pressure on yourself. In T20 cricket one needs to react according to the situation."