Veteran pacer Ishant Sharma has credited former skipper MS Dhoni for grooming the Indian fast bowlers and handing over a “complete” pace battery to his Virat Kohli.
Notably, Dhoni led the Indian white-ball teams from 2007 to 2017 and the Test side from 2008 to 2014 before passing the baton to Kohli.
It was during Dhoni’s tenure as captain that the likes of Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah made their India debuts.
“When Virat was captain, bowling was complete. When we were playing under Mahi bhai, we were in a transition phase. At that time, Shami and Umesh were new, and only I was there. Everyone else would rotate. Bhuvi was also new. There is no match for Mahi bhai as a communicator.”
“But, what he did was groom the bowlers and leave them with Virat. Shami and Umesh, over time, became different bowlers, and then, Jasprit came in. So, he got a complete package,” Ishant said on JioCinema.
Ishant also highlighted that captain Kohli was good at identifying everyone’s traits.
“The best thing he did was identify everyone’s traits, that he used to talk about one thing with one person and then let them be.”
He further explained that Kohli had set defined roles for every pacer in the group and would give different advice to all.
“First thing, he was aggressive. If you’re bowling with the new ball, you can concede 25 runs in five overs as long as you take two wickets. The important thing was that he gave everyone defined roles,” Ishant revealed.
“He used to tell me, ‘You have played enough matches. It’s now time for you to step up. Don’t bowl thinking you have to bowl in a particular area. Now, you have to find ways of getting wickets’.”
“He went to Shami and said, ‘I know you can take wickets, but now I need you to bowl consistently. That you can bowl three overs as maidens’.”
“He went to Bumrah and said, ‘This is your debut. You do what you do, but consistency is most important in Test cricket’. After 2021, I realized he wanted all of us to think out of the box,” he concluded.
(With PTI Inputs)