Veteran fast bowler Ishant Sharma says pulling India out of a tough spot remains his motivation as he goes into his 100th Test on Wednesday.
Sharma, 32, is set to become India’s second quick bowler — after the legendary Kapil Dev — to play a century of Test matches.
With the four-Test series tied at 1-1, Sharma will lead India’s bowling in the third Test against England at the world’s biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad.
Last week in Chennai, he claimed two wickets in his 99th Test with India thrashing England by 317 runs, and says he will play his 100th game with the same intent.
“Hundred is just a number for me,” Sharma told reporters ahead of the pink-ball Test.
“It’s like how I played my 99th match, with the same feeling, same intensity and same aggressiveness, I will go into my 100th match. And I will continue until I see the intent and aggressiveness in my bowling.”
He added, “I don’t play for numbers, I play to win. How can I make the team win, how can I become an impactful player?
“How can I pull out the team from tough situations, that is the only motivation. If there is a partnership, how to break it, that is only my focus.”
Sharma reached 300 Test wickets in his team’s opening loss to enter India’s exclusive 300-wicket club, which includes pace greats Dev (434) and Zaheer Khan (311).
From a lanky quick bowler, struggling with injuries, to a warhorse, who has averaged around 19 since 2018, Sharma has come a long way and credits the progress to understanding his body.
“I just go one game at a time, I just don’t think too far ahead because you never know what comes next,” said Sharma, who made his Test debut in 2007 in Dhaka.
“I understand my body, what kind of training I need to do. As you grow older and you have to bowl long spells, you need to look after yourself.”
Sharma played a one-day international in 2016 and a Twenty20 match for India in 2013 before he fell out of favour in the limited-overs format.
When asked if his career as a one-format player helped him to reach his milestone of the 100th Test match, Sharma replied:
“I don’t think much about all those things that if I don’t play one-day cricket, then it shouldn’t affect my Test game.
“At least I am playing one format and should be grateful for that.”