Ishant hails Zaheer influence

India

India fast bowler Ishant Sharma say he has always been grateful for the support captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has given him, especially at crunch moments, like in the Champions Trophy final against England.

India fast bowler Ishant Sharma say he has always been grateful for the support captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has given him, especially at crunch moments, like in the Champions Trophy final against England.

India ended up winning the final by five runs, thanks to Sharma's double wicket strike in the 18th over, when he removed Ravi Bopara and Eoin Morgan, who were both well set. Prior to this, Ishant had been dire, so the call from Dhoni was a surprise.

But Ishant said he was grateful to his skipper for the show of faith, and it inspired the two wicket-taking deliveries. In later matches, in the West Indies, Ishant's form continued to impress.

Ishant told the <i>Times of India</i> of the final: "It was a tight situation and Dhoni surprised many by giving the ball to me. He told me to just stick to what I am good at and back myself. Dhoni has some kind of belief in me.

"It was a crucial call, but he told me that this is the over which is going to win the game for us."

Ishant has been playing solidly for India since the start of the year, after recovering from an ankle injury, but has been without strike partner Zaheer Kahn for much of the time.

Zaheer has been out injured, and still is, leaving Ishant to bowl with youngsters Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the latter of which has made quite the impression. Still, Ishant is keen for Zaheer to return, and credits the veteran paceman for the success of his career.

He added: "I love being the spearhead of the Indian bowling attack and it is a privilege for any fast bowler. At the same time it is better not to think about these things and stay focused.

"Yes, I have to be ready for India's big tour of South Africa, but before that we also have the T20 Cricket League and the ODIs against the Aussies.

"I love to play with Zaheer Khan. In my first three years of international cricket, I grew under Zak. Whatever I am is because of him. He taught me how to bowl.

"Everything that I do on the field is what I learnt from him. It will be great to have him back."

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