'Ishant Sharma bowled like million dollars in Sri Lanka'

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Mumbai, Sep 14: Stating that paceman Ishant Sharma is in the form of his life, Team India's Director Ravi Shastri today said he wants the fast bowler to be aggressive again in the upcoming South Africa series despite a 1-Test ban.

An aggressive Ishant was fined and later handed a 1-match suspension for his on-field misbehaviour during the Test series against Sri Lanka last month.

Ishant Sharma

Now, with South Africa tour starting at home next month, Ishant will have to sit out the 1st match (November 5-9) of the 4-Test rubber.

Shastri, who yesterday (September 13) was retained as Team Director till the ICC World Twenty20 early next year, said Ishant would be missed in the opening Test against the Proteas.

"I think it was a big knock he had to take going home from the World Cup. It was an honest decision on his part that he wasn't fit enough and at the same time it was a bitter pill to swallow.

"But with sacrifices like that come the good things. He rested well, trained extremely hard and understood his own technique and where he can improve. He bowled like a million dollars in Sri Lanka. And this is not the last of him. We will continue to see him bowl like that in the future, now that he has gained immense understanding of his bowling, Shastri told BCCI's official website on Monday when asked about what change he saw in Ishant in Sri Lanka.

He further added, "I know he (Ishant) has copped a lot of flak over the aggression and he will learn where to draw a line. But let me assure you, he has the backing of the entire team. I want him to be aggressive and I will be the first one to push him in that direction. But I will also mark the line. We will miss him for the first Test.

"He is our most experienced fast bowler. He bowled beautifully in Sri Lanka and is in the form of his life. With a little bit of luck, he could have picked 10 more wickets in that series."

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