Ishant Sharma ready to strike at Aussies in Perth

Perth (Australia): Indian fast bowler Zaheer Khan believes that fellow pacer Ishant Sharma will have a large impact on Perth Test against Australia, especially in the wake of him copping criticism for his middle finger salute to local fans at a go-karting venue.

Charged up about the incident, Sharma hit the practice nets at the WACA Ground yesterday looking intent on taking his anger out on Australia.

He spoke at length with Sachin Tendulkar and bowled with extra sting during the session.

The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Zaheer Khan, as saying: ``Ishant Sharma has played on this ground before and … I`m sure he`s got fond memories of this ground and this is definitely going to be useful for him, to get that rhythm back and get amongst the wickets, which is important.``

Khan further said: ``I feel he is bowling well. It`s just a matter of time before he starts taking wickets.``

It was at the WACA Ground on India`s previous tour in 2007-08 that the tall fast bowler, at the age of only 19, transfixed then Australian captain Ricky Ponting with a spellbinding performance that emphatically announced his arrival on the international scene.

Four years later, Australia lead the Border-Gavaskar series 2-0, as they did in 2008 before Sharma`s theatrics helped drive India to a 72-run win in Perth.

The Delhi quick is an established entity these days, not the fresh and largely unseen package of unbridled excitement that put Ponting in particular in a spin last time.

The hair is shorter - the wild, youthful mop top of 2008 replaced by a more polished look - and he is required, along with Zaheer Khan, to play the lead role in the attack.

He will look to do so in Perth from Friday driven by his displeasure at being abused and then at being photographed raising his middle finger to members of the public on Monday night.

Sharma was leaving a go-karting venue in the suburb of Belmont when, provoked by locals angry that the track had been shut down to accommodate the Indians, he reacted with a one-finger salute as the team was boarding the bus.

The bystanders had taunted Sharma and his teammates about go-karting, instead of training, saying they would be trailing 3-0 in the series by next week.

Zaheer Khan insists the Indians are in good spirits despite the mountain of criticism being directed their way, notably from former players and captains.

The strongest has come from the legendary Sunil Gavaskar, who queried why India had not been practicing since losing the second Test at the SCG last Friday.

Bureau Report