It’s the hunger to learn that has taken Ishant Sharma this far: Munaf Patel

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I bear in mind the second when Ishant Sharma and I grew to become actually shut. He was simply a teen who had come into the crew and didn’t need to sleep alone. Somehow, he obtained by an evening or two. Next day he got here to me and mentioned, “Munnabhai, I am not used to sleeping alone. There are always mummy-papa at home. I get a bit afraid. There is slight fear. Can I sleep in your room, tonight please?” And I advised him, “Arre! What’s there to ask? Come over, there is enough room for two of us. And anyway, I don’t sleep on bed. I don’t have that habit; I just put a pillow on the floor and sleep. You can take the bed.”

So he would use his room solely to take a shower or to clean up in the morning. Since then, at any time when I used to be a part of the Indian crew, we slept in my room. We are greater than brothers now. I really feel so proud at the moment that Ishu has taken 300 wickets and performed 98 Tests – simply two extra for the 100! 300 Test wickets is an enormous achievement, it is sort of a batsman scoring 10,000 runs.

First impression

I first heard his identify after I was in Bangalore to play a KSCA (Karnataka State Cricket Association) event. My ONGC teammates, a bunch largely primarily based in Delhi, advised me about this boy Ishant who was at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. Some lamba, patla (tall, skinny) boy, they referred to him as.

I had performed for India at that stage and he was simply coming by the ranks. He had the tempo to play at a better stage; maybe lacked a bit in line-and-length consistency. But I bear in mind he had an awesome inswinger even then. I felt he would play for India however had no concept that he would go on to play 100 Test matches or take 300 wickets.

I bear in mind him coming to me to have a chat. My nature is: ‘Jo bhi aaya mere paas, most welcome!’ (Whoever comes to me, most welcome!). We hit it off immediately. He graciously advised me that I used to be one in every of his idols as I used to be known as the ‘fastest bowler in India’ at one level.

The one factor that impressed me about Ishu then other than his inswinger was that he was so keen to learn, to take in the artwork of quick bowling. There are some younger gamers who aren’t shy and can search recommendations. He can be a bit shy too, however had the hunger. Almost as if he needed to learn the whole lot in in the future. Every ball, he would ask one thing. It’s that hunger that has taken him this far. Even now, after I communicate to him, he asks me what can he do to make his bowling higher.

A great boy

He has no vices – smoking, consuming or nightclubs. All his focus has been on his recreation. But I bear in mind a night in New Zealand in 2009. He was hit for a couple of boundaries, fours and sixes. That night, Ishu was upset. He mentioned, “Today I will drink! Aaj aapka bhai peeyega”. I bear in mind telling him, “All my life I haven’t drunk, and you haven’t drunk either till now. Why start now?” I mentioned, “this is the life of a bowler. We will get hit. You don’t have to take it to heart. Just reflect and bounce back. The match is long over, you shouldn’t be tense.” He listened to me however stored asking: “How was I hit like that?”.

After his success on the 2007-08 Australia tour, I bear in mind telling him: “I have seen many top players at their peak, one injury and career over. Just take care of your body. God has been kind to us, let’s respect that.” Not that he wanted that. I used to be simply being proactive. Whenever I felt that it was a time for it, I’d give him one injection of recommendation. He has at all times listened to me like a youthful brother. Not simply me, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag would additionally communicate to him and he would pay attention.

Possessive about hair

We have additionally made him cry. Literally as soon as, in Sri Lanka. He had these lengthy hair and Sehwag mentioned, “Bring him, we will cut his hair”. Ishant loves his hair. He was screaming, “Gautam bhai, help, bachao!”. I grabbed him and Viru introduced a pair of scissors. Viru was performing as if he was slicing his hair and Ishant began crying like a faculty child. I mentioned, “Are you mad? We won’t cut your hair, don’t worry.” We have been all on the ground, laughing. Such a great child, but when somebody can cry over hair, it’s Ishant Sharma.

You have to actually seek for a foul behavior in him. Room tidiness, maybe. All the stuff can be in a large number in his room, mendacity right here and there. Except the house he would rigorously put together for pooja. The house that would have photos of gods and goddesses, he would maintain clear. He additionally has a behavior of selecting his nostril. I’d maintain asking him about it and he would say, “Whenever I am alone and thinking something, the finger goes in automatically!”

Constant search of enchancment

On a severe word, although, he’s somebody who would actually get upset if he isn’t bowling effectively. If wickets didn’t come by, he would strive various things. He is sort of possessive about his bowling, in case you get the concept. He was so determined to learn the artwork of wicket-taking that he was prepared to go the further mile. For the sake of his health and bowling, he turned vegetarian. He at all times used to push me to work on my health; he wanted a companion and I used to be with him.

I sincerely really feel, the tide turned when Zaheer Khan retired. He was below Zaheer’s shadow a bit. Ishant was the similar Ishant however maybe, due to Zaheer’s aura and presence, someplace Ishant wasn’t in a position to break by, virtually not seen. When Zaheer was not there, Ishant realised his function. He knew that he was the senior bowler, he was the bowling captain now. The stress may have gotten to a lesser particular person, particularly one who had lived in the shadows, however he has tailored and risen to the event fantastically.

There was some concern about his white-ball capabilities. We have spoken about it a few instances in the previous. The factor is he didn’t play an excessive amount of with the white ball. He doesn’t go for runs in Tests and there’s a completely different type of stress with the white ball as you’ll leak runs. His pondering was like a red-ball bowler. The pondering was completely different. Then he felt, ‘no, I can do this’. When the pondering modifications, enchancment comes. Then he began to do effectively in the IPL.

One for the longest format

But it’s additionally a blessing in disguise in some methods. He has virtually performed 100 Tests. As quick bowlers, all we needed to do was play as many Tests as attainable. That was his pondering too. All our discussions on the recreation revolved round Test cricket solely. You use your thoughts to get Test wickets. Nothing comes simple.

The delight in enjoying 100 Test matches have to be one thing else. A participant who performs 100 ODIS can’t match it. That’s why even at the moment Yuvraj Singh says his profession doesn’t really feel full. He nonetheless mentions it at the moment.

Ishant has dealt with fame rather well too. Though in some methods, it’s not a shock. That’s primarily due to his nature but additionally bear in mind that he performed in an period that had 10-11 legends. There was Tendulkar, Kumble, Sehwag, Harbhajan, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman, Gambhir, Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj – who else do you want in that dressing room. Take a reputation and all are legends. It’s my privilege that I shared the dressing room with all of them. And I’m equally proud that I performed with Ishant.

Whenever he wants recommendation, he nonetheless calls me. It’s dilwala rishta, a relationship of hearts. I at all times pray that what I couldn’t obtain, Ishant ought to obtain that. Ishu is about to play his one centesimal Test and has already taken 300 wickets. Mazaa aa gaya, khush ho gaya bhai. (Great enjoyable, I’m so joyful).

(Munaf Patel is a World Cup winner and former India pacer. He was a senior member of the Indian crew when Ishant Sharma made his debut. Munaf spoke to Devendra Pandey).

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