Indian fast bowler Ishant Sharma recalled how a nightmare over in the 2013 one-day international against Australia, where conceded 30 runs to James Faulkner, proved to be the turning point of his career.
Sharma, who has been a regular in Tests for India featuring in 97 matches, has not played in ODIs since 2016. His limited-overs career declined after that fateful over against Australia that he remembers to date.
“The turning point of my life came in 2013. Faulkner hit me for 30 runs in one over in an ODI in Mohali that Australia went on to win,” Sharma said in an interview with ESPNcricinfo, talking to Deep Dasgupta in an episode of Cricketbaazi.
“At that time I felt I had betrayed myself and my country. For two-three weeks, I didn’t speak to anyone. I cried a lot. I am a very tough guy. My mother says she hasn’t seen a tougher person than me. [But] I called my girlfriend and cried on the phone like a child. Those three weeks were like a nightmare. I stopped eating. I couldn’t sleep or do anything else. You switch on the television and people are criticising you, which messes you up even more,” he added.
Sharma’s costly over meant India went down to Australia having set the visitors a target of 304. Needing 44 off the last three overs, it seemed a tall order for the Australians but Faulkner changed that smashing four sixes and a boundary off Sharma’s bowling.
“I laugh about it now and I consider it a blessing in disguise,” he said.
“Sometimes you need a jolt to understand your passion. After the Faulkner incident, I went through major changes in my life. After 2013, I started taking things seriously. Before that, if I had a bad performance, people would come and tell me ‘It’s okay, it happens.’ But after 2013, if someone came to me and said that, I wouldn’t listen. If I have made a mistake, I have made a mistake. I started taking responsibility for my actions. When you do that, you play every match to win it for the team,” he added.
The 31-year-old though hasn’t given up hopes of donning the blue jersey again and wants to be part of a World Cup-winning squad.
“I want to be part of a World Cup-winning team, as it will be a different feeling altogether. We are playing the World Test Championship, which is equivalent to a World Cup in Test cricket, but you realise that not a lot of people follow it, while an ODI World Cup is widely followed,” Sharma said.
However, the Delhi pacer has been India’s leading bowler in Test cricket and is set to be the only Indian fast bowler after Kapil Dev to play over 100 Tests for India when the team tours Australia in the summer.
He is also three short of picking up 300 wickets in the longest format, a feat that would put him among the elite achievers in international cricket.