Ishant Sharma Friday said the “healthy competition” among India’s pacemen makes him excel after he claimed five Bangladesh wickets on day one of the first day-night Test for both the teams. Ishant returned figures of 5-22 in India’s pink-ball debut to bowl out the tourists for 106 in the second session of the second Test of the two-match series after they elected to bat first in Kolkata.
He was ably supported by fellow quicks Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami who shared the remaining five wickets between them. “I think the important thing is that we have a very healthy competition. It will only improve your performance,” said Ishant, who claimed his first five-wicket haul in India after 12 years. “If there’s no competition and if you are comfortable with what you are doing. I mean (if) you don’t have someone to challenge your place, I don’t think you can perform this well.”
The 31-year-old Ishant took three wickets in his team’s opening win of the series as Shami led the pace pack with his seven scalps in the match. Ishant played second fiddle to Shami and Yadav in the team’s recent 3-0 sweep over South Africa when he took two of the 26 wickets picked by the Indian seamers.
“I am enjoying my cricket right now. I used to put a lot of pressure on myself before,” said Ishant, who has reached 287 wickets in his 96th Test.
“Earlier I used to think that I am beating the batsmen but still not taking wickets. Now I don’t think all that. All I tell myself is that I have to take wickets.
“Obviously, I have the experience and so I need to adjust to the conditions as soon as possible.”
Ishant struck first, trapping Imrul Kayes lbw for four with his newly-developed in-coming delivery to the left-hander. He also bowled Nayeem Hasan, a right-hand batsman who later pulled out due to concussion fears, with an away-going ball. “You may have observed before I normally used to bowl outswingers to left-handers. I needed to add variation because your game improves only when you add variety,” said Ishant.
“So, in this match, Imrul Kayes dismissal was that ball and the two bowled dismissals too. Batsmen think the ball will move after pitching but it goes straight.”
Ishant said not being part of the limited-overs squad is also not playing his mind as he remains in a happy space. “Somewhere you do feel bad but I am at such a stage in my life I have stopped worrying about these things,” said Ishant. “They don’t affect me.”
India were 174 for three at stumps, leading Bangladesh by 68 runs. Skipper Virat Kohli, on 59, and Ajinkya Rahane, on 23, were at the crease.