‘Ishant brings in a lot of experience. He's bowled well in sub-continent conditions, knows how to reverse swing the ball, can lead the pace attack’
With so much focus on turning wickets and spinners, India captain Virat Kohli stressed on Friday that fast bowlers also have an important role to play, and the return of strike bowler Ishant Sharma is a big boost for the team.
Ishant bowled India to victory the last time he featured in a Test, registering 5-54 and 3-32 in the third and final match against Sri Lanka in August, but was subsequently banned for one match for an altercation with the Sri Lankan players.
The ban saw him miss the opening Test against South Africa in Mohali, which India won by 108 runs, but his return should prove handy for the hosts in the remaining three matches of the ongoing series.
The Delhi pacer, 27, carried on his good form in domestic cricket, taking nine wickets against Vidarbha in the Ranji Trophy last month before sustaining a hamstring injury in the next match.
He failed to make it to the India’s squad for the ODI series against South Africa due to the injury but has recovered to make the cut for the Bangalore Test.
Skipper Kohli was more than happy to welcome his lanky pacer.
“With Ishant coming in, he brings in a lot of experience. He's bowled well in sub-continent conditions, knows how to reverse swing the ball, can lead the pace attack.
"As I mentioned before, the combination can or will change according to the conditions. So I would rather have a guy who will give me control in an important time in the game rather than someone who will just get the overs out of way. There is a change in mindset there as well. That combination has worked for us,” he said.
Kohli pointed out that Ishant's inclusion gives a new dimension to the Indian bowling attack as he is capable of taking wickets on any type of surface.
“I'm very delighted that Ishant is back. The way he is bowling and the way he bowled in Sri Lanka brings a lot to the table. It is not just about the spinners, we have quality seamers as well. We saw that in Mohali. For those two (Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav) to rush the batsmen on that sort of a wicket takes a lot of heart and takes a lot of effort. So I was really happy to see that personally,” he said.
Ishant is likely to replace of fellow-fast bowler Yadav. The team could also be looking at playing medium pace all-rounder Stuart Binny considering the gloomy weather Bangalore is experiencing.
Kohli said fast bowlers have to play an important role as support bowlers even though the spinners are expected to take much of the burden of bowling during the series.
“If you see Mohali, the fast bowlers in total, both the innings put together, bowled about 20 overs but they were pretty important in the course of the game. If those 20 overs go for 100 runs then you are not in a position to win a Test match. So they played their role perfectly. It is important for the three guys bowling the most of the overs to have two guys after them who can also maintain the same momentum and control the run-rate as well, which is very important in Test matches.”
Rain in Bangalore during the past few days has affected the preparation of the pitch. The wicket is again expected to offer turn, but the prevalent conditions and weather forecast during the Test could be a factor in picking the playing eleven, believes Kohli.
“It does play a part, especially knowing that you might not have full game time. It does sort of bring about a few changes as far as the team combination is concerned. The team management and myself have spoken about it. We will make the necessary changes according to the conditions and what the weather looks like in the next few days because it is very important to keep all the factors in mind before picking a squad for a Test. So it does make you change the combination to a certain extent,” he said.