India pacer Ishant Sharma said the Mohali ODI against Australia in 2013 where James Faulkner smashed him for 30 runs in an over was the turning point of his life.
Chasing 304, Faulkner hit Ishant for four sixes and a boundary in the 30-run 48th over as Australia won by four wickets, with Faulkner unbeaten on 64 off 29 balls.
Ishant revealed he found it difficult to sleep for three weeks after, and even ‘cried like a child’.
“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,” Ishant told ESPNcricinfo. “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.
“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.
“I laugh about it now and I consider it a blessing in disguise. 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.”
Ishant remained in and out of the ODI team and played the last of his 80 games in the format in 2016. However, he is a regular, and even the leader of the pack in Test cricket currently. Ishant’s average in Tests was around 37 in 2017 while it has come down to around 32 now.
Ishant credited then captain MS Dhoni for backing him during the tough phases.
“MS Dhoni always backed me. Even after my first 50-60 Tests, he never said we’ll look for someone to replace you. To tell you the truth, even after playing 97 Tests, I still don’t understand things like average and strike rate,” he explained. “I’ve never bothered about these things. If I’m not able to understand them, why should I rely on them? It’s just a number after all. If I am bowling in India and the captain tells me to bowl in a way that I concede only 40 runs in 20 overs and that the spinners will take care of picking up wickets, that’s what is important to me. It doesn’t matter to me that my bowling average is around 37. My communication will be with my captain and that’s why Dhoni backed me.”
Ishant revealed he’d like to be a part of a World Cup winning squad.
“Obviously, I would love to play in a World Cup. Actually, 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.”