Ishant Sharma hasn’t played for nearly a month now and that is not a good sign, but I am sure he will use whatever games remain between now and the start of India’s title defence against Pakistan in Adelaide to get back into match mode. The two most important things are training well and bowling a lot – there is no such thing as bowling enough on these pitches. Obviously, Ishant has played in Australia before and knows what to expect, but there really is no substitute for match time.
In many ways, it is a Catch-22 situation. The more you bowl, the better you become. But the body also needs rest, so you can’t bowl it to the ground. It’s how you strike that balance that becomes crucial. By the time the ICC Cricket World Cup comes around, you should have made sure that you are gripping the ball the way you like it, that the feel of the ball in the hand is both comfortable and satisfying.
Like I said earlier, it is extremely important for India to identify its frontline pace attack. At this time, Bhuvneshwar Kumar is a certainty, and given that Ishant is fit, he will be a shoo-in if he can find his line and length. The third seamer is then a toss-up between Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav. Bhuvneshwar will swing the ball, which is his great strength, while the others will get seam movement. What this means is that Bhuvneshwar apart, the others have to bowl just a yard shorter and place the onus on the batsman to play the cut and the pull from that indeterminate, uncomfortable length.
Given the technology at their disposal, it won’t take long for bowlers today to figure out what it is that will give them the best chance of being successful. It will help them understand what lengths to bowl to the premier batsmen in different teams, what their favourite scoring areas are, and what the best options are of getting them out. Technology won’t make you successful, but it will offer you the tools that, if you use judiciously, can help you embrace success. It is important that your preparations are impeccable. Things can go wrong on any given day, which happens in cricket. But that should not be because you have been tardy or lacklustre in doing your homework.