Indian pace spearhead Ishant Sharma revealed that he will be bowling his best to Kumar Sangakkara in the upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka, which begins on 12th August in Galle.
The three-match Test series will be Kumar Sangakkara’s last outing for Sri Lanka, as the 37-year-old will be retiring after the second Test in Colombo.
Ishant and Sangakkara have been team-mates in the Indian Premier League, but the 26-year-old pacer said that he will be looking to put on a good performance for his country.
“He (Sangakkara) is playing for his country and I am playing for my country,” reasoned Ishant.
“We played together only in the IPL and this is international match.
"So I will not think that he is playing his last game, I will go hard at him.”
Ishant had a memorable day in the tour game against Sri Lanka Board President’s XI, where he picked up a five-wicket haul, with figures of five for 23 from seven overs.
Speaking about the spell, which helped dismiss the opposition for just 121 runs, Ishant felt that he gained confidence as he bowled more overs.
“It was a pretty good spell. But more than wickets, if you get overs in your bag, that’s more important in the practice game. That gives you confidence.”
In the nine Test matches since 2014, Ishant has picked up 38 wickets at an average of 32.00 with three five wicket hauls under his belt.
However, in the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2014-15, he managed to pick up just nine wickets from three games, at an average of 48.22.
Looking for more practice before the start of the series, Ishant hoped to bowl a few more overs in the second innings and in the nets later on.
“Maybe tomorrow after lunch we can bowl for two sessions and get more overs in.
"Then we have two more days in the nets before the first Test. So we should be able to do enough before the Test.”
Though the sub-continent wickets are more helpful for the spinners, Ishant opined that pitches in Sri Lanka usually have some grass along with some assistance for the fast bowlers.
“A major difference here from India is the ball. They also leave some grass on the wickets here so the ball is seaming and swinging a bit.
“As you can see we also lost three wickets quickly in the second innings and they also lost quite a few wickets.
“So, the new ball is important and after that how consistent you are with the old is going to make a huge difference.”
Stating that the Kookaburra ball will offer only limited help the seamers at the start, Ishant felt that bowling with the older ball will be more of a challenge to the bowlers.
“Test cricket is about how you bowl in different situations especially with kookaburra ball because conditions are different from Australia, New Zealand, etc. It is not going to help much.
“Ball is going to swing for 12 to 14 overs so after that how you will bowl is really important when the ball is old.
“We have been talking about how to maintain the ball, how to bowl to batsmen when they are set.”
Four out of the five batsmen dismissed by Sharma in the tour game have all been included in the Sri Lankan Test squad, but he is not reading too much into it.
Elaborating that sticking to the basics will be the key to doing well at the Test level, he looked forward to bowling the right lines and lengths.
“I don’t really think about all these things.
"They are good batsmen so that’s why they are playing for their country.
"I just keep hitting my lengths and keep doing it again.
“Initially with (the) Kookaburra ball it swings here and there was help for fast bowlers today. So I just stuck to basics.
“Even at this level it is important to stick to basics.”
The upcoming Test series is the first time India and Sri Lanka are playing against each other in the longest format since 2010.
© Cricket World 2015