Ishant: We believe in ourselves

India

Ishant Sharma's return to form in the Test arena could not have come at a better time for India, who seized control of proceedings on the third day of their contest with South Africa in Johannesburg.

Ishant Sharma's return to form in the Test arena could not have come at a better time for India, who seized control of proceedings on the third day of their contest with South Africa in Johannesburg.

India are sitting pretty with a 320-run second-innings lead, with Cheteshwar Pujara (135 not out) and Virat Kohli (77 not out) occupying the crease in a stand that is already worth 191 runs.

Sharma did not have the best of times in England and Australia, where he struggled to strike and has subsequently hailed the return of Zaheer Khan to the setup as one of the reasons for his rejuvenation

The bushy-haired seamer returned figures of four for 79 with his most impressive spell coming on a morning where the home team had the opportunity to take charge of the game following their impressive overnight stand.

Instead he and Khan ensured that the Proteas could only add 31 to their overnight total – giving India a valuable lead of 36 when they started their second innings.

"It's nice to see Zaheer back in the side," said Sharma. "The amount of confidence he gives you while you bowling and tells you where you lack.

"It's important for fast bowlers to know all these – Shami and myself we are still young and we can't see all the mistakes while we bowl.

"So I think his presence help us, someone who tells you if you do this, then you are going to get more from this kind of track."

Asked what the trick to his outstanding performance was, Sharma insisted that the confidence within their bowling unit is what has helped most.

"There's no secret. I think there was enough assistance in the wicket when we were bowling," he added.

"So we believed in ourselves, and told each other to stick to the plan and bowl into the right areas and we were patient. I think the cracks are opening more and I think that's going to help the fast bowlers."

He said that the belief in this relatively inexperienced group has grown tremendously over the last few days.

"As I said earlier, we kept on believe in each other. It's important when you play abroad because you only have your team-mates around you," insisted Sharma.

"Then you believe in each other, look at each other and try to do the job for India, that's more important. They were going quite well and the atmosphere is relaxing and it was nice to see batsmen scoring runs in South Africa."

India still have eight wickets in hand and their next real poser will be when to send their hosts in for what should be a near impossible target to get on the fourth and fifth day.

<i>Michael Mentz at the Wanderers</i>

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