Gearing up to play perhaps the biggest match of their career so far, the Indian bowling trio of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami shed light on their experience of playing in England and India’s journey in the World Test Championship leading up to the final.
Speaking for ‘bcci.tv’, Ashwin said- “When you talk about English conditions there is a standard line ‘the conditions are king’. I sometimes say it on a funny note –you don’t need to cover the ground or the pitch in England, you need to cover the clouds. There are two aspects to playing cricket here [in England], one is looking down on the pitch and the other is looking upwards.”
The most experienced Test cricketer in the team – the only one with 100 Tests – Ishant spoke about the difference in bowling at home vs in England. “When you bowl in India, the reverse swing comes into play after the ball gets older. Here [in England], your length is up as the ball swings for a longer duration. Adjusting that length is not easy. It takes a lot of effort. Also, the weather is colder hence it takes longer to acclimatise.”
Shami echoed Ishant’s thoughts and said that irrespective of the results, experience always works especially in Test cricket. “When you know the conditions and the match situations. Cloud, wicket, weather and wind everything creates a difference. It really helps when you are playing in those conditions again.”
Ishant also emphasized the need for somebody to take the responsibility to maintain the ball. According to the pacer, if the shine is maintained well in these conditions it is easier for the fast bowlers to take wickets.
“This journey has been an emotional one along with being a practical one," said Ishant. "This is an ICC tournament and is like a World Cup final. Virat has said earlier as well that this is not a month-long effort but an effort over two years. COVID enhanced the effort for us, the rules were changed and the pressure was on us. We won a tough series in Australia. In India as well, we had to win at least 3-1 against England.”
Both Ishant and Shami poured their heart over the team’s success in Australia. For Shami what the youngsters achieved in Australia in the absence of seniors was the best moment and the best feeling for the team as a whole. It was also a lesson for us in this championship and is also a benchmark that boosts our confidence.
Seconding his thoughts, Ishant agreed that the belief that the Australia tour instilled in the team that they can come back from any situation was a very big moment to take Indian cricket to the next phase. “I was not part of that series but I feel that it brought about a different type of self-belief.”
About the WTC final
"I expect a well planned and knit New Zealand team to come at us. Having played two Tests definitely come with an advantage so we have to adapt to that," said Ashwin. "In all these years, it has never happened and it's the most exciting part of playing Test cricket and we have never played a team in a neutral venue.”
"It's about giving 110 per cent as this is the last-ditch effort of our two years of hard work. It's important that we give it our all and double our effort for some time.” Shami signed off.