New Delhi:He captured the imagination of cricket fraternity by that nine-over spell to Ricky Ponting in Australia last year but pace sensation Ishant Sharma said it was 'once in a life-time' performance which may never be repeated.
"I may never be able to bowl like that nine-over spell against Ponting. It happens to a cricketer just once in a life time, or may be twice. But I may never bowl like that ever in future. It has changed my life completely," he said in an interview.
Ishant scalped Ponting during that spell to play a crucial role in India's win at Perth. He also drew accolades from Ponting, who said "The spell he (Ishant) bowled to me in Perth on the last day was some of the better bowling I have faced in Test cricket".
Since then Ishant has bowled Ponting out for six times in as many matches.
Asked what was his secret of such a stupendous success against Ponting, Ishant said he tried to stick to the plan. "I just stick to the plan and bowl with basics in place. If that is taken care of wickets come automatically. I don't experiment during a match," said the Delhi youngster, who is enjoying a long break after India's tour of Pakistan was cancelled in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.
The 20-year-old speedster now seems to believing in the adage "well begun is half done' as he said after a great start to first year in international cricket he was looking forward to a consistent show in future.
"2008 was great for me. I can't forget that it was my first year in international cricket and for a youngster like me, it provides a great base for future. In this backdrop, I hope it will be easy for me to have a long career," Ishant said.
"In 2009, I am eyeing for consistency and bringing more variation to my bowling," he added.
It was a complete break for members of India team and no one was involved in any cricketing activities and so was Ishant even though the tours of Sri Lanka and New Zealand were scheduled in the next two months.
"We are on a break at the moment and involved in promotional events, photo shoots for our sponsors like Reebok. But at the moment I am not thinking of any new variations in my bowling.
"Maybe, I will ask my coaches and then go about it because I have to keep in mind what are my natural strengths and work accordingly," he said adding "I would like to get in rhythm by bowling in first-class matches".
"The New Zealand tour is still far but pitches there will be helpful to fast bowler and I would like to bowl like I did in Australia. I will stick to my strengths such as hitting the deck", he said.
Ishant made it clear that he did not like to cool heels when matches were on and he was not injured as he felt rotation policy would not work for him even at the expense of extra workload.
"I don't agree with the rotation policy because if I am bowling well and suddenly rested I lose my rhythm and form. So I don't think unless there is an injury there is a need for rest", he said.
"I just train hard, rest enough and focus on proper action and line and length to keep injuries at bay," the gangling 6'4" tall pacer said.
On the problem of plenty as far as fast bowlers were concerned in the Indian team, Ishant said it was great to show the world that even India could produce fast bowlers.
"Having so many fast bowlers like RP Singh, Munaf Patel and S Sreesanth to compete with is a great feeling. India has never produced so many fast bowlers at one time. We can now show the world with pride that even we have a fast bowling brigade," he said.
But he denied that he had any reason to feel insecure. "There is no feeling of insecurity because I feel you are in the team only till you are bowling well. Indian team is a place for only those who deserve it. Well's that's the motto of my life," he said.
Ishant said he owed a lot to fellow pacer Zaheer Khan, who backed him during Australia's tour of India.
"Zaheer bhai helped me quite a lot when the going was a bit tough for me. You know it's not easy for fast bowlers in the sub-continent.
"After the Bangalore Test, where it was quite tough for me, he told me that I could be successful by reverse swinging. It was his idea to introduce reverse swing early on," he said.
Ishant said bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad and coach Gary Kirsten supported him a lot and instilled a lot of self-belief in him.
"Prasad is a different bowler than I am but he never tells me to bowl like him. He only tries to enhance my natural strengths which is the biggest support from him.
"Kirsten has instilled confidence in me. Earlier, I used to get nervous after a bad day on the field, like in Delhi when I dropped a catch, or on a day when I didn't do anything but Kirsten comes and tells me that it was ok and such days are part and parcel of the game and came in everyone's career," he said.
"Similarly Dhoni never criticises even if you don't perform. He knows when I am exhausted with bowling, perhaps. His judgment of conditions is excellent," Ishant said. Ishant also had words of praise for Australian speedster Brett Lee as he said "I learnt from him his split-finger slower ball technique which I find unique".