New Delhi: Ishant Sharma feels the introduction of two new white balls from both ends in ODIs is a boon for pacers and the lanky bowler partly attributes his recent success in the 50-over format to the latest rule change.
"Obviously, there has been a big change since the harder seam helps fast bowlers a lot. So now instead of one (white) ball getting old in 25 overs like it used to happen earlier, we have a lot more time to work on new balls. This is very beneficial for fast bowlers as you can hit the deck hard with a newer ball and also it swings a lot more," Ishant, who has taken 18 wickets in his last 10 ODIs, said.
Having started off as a tearaway pacer six seasons back, the 25-year-old Delhi lad has traded his 140 km plus pace for line and length and is content with the way it has been working for him.
"Yes, I am happy (with my pace) as I feel that I have matured a lot as a bowler over the past few years. I feel that I am more consistent now and is able to attack the batsmen with all that`s there in my skill set. Whether it`s swing or line and length."
Pace bowling is all about finding the right rhythm and the man who has 144 Test wickets from 51 Tests is no exception.
"Finding rhythm is very important for every bowler and getting things right prior to any important series or tournament makes it all the more easier for me to back my abilities."
With a long and demanding season ahead, Ishant feels he is in a "fine space mentally and physically".
"Thanks to the support I have got from my captain (Mahendra Singh Dhoni) and coach (Duncan Fletcher), which has helped me perform well in Tests and in the Champions Trophy. The manner in which they supported me was crucial. Now as the new season is about to start, I find myself in a good space mentally and much stronger physically."
Ishant is keen to carry forward the good work into the next season.
"I hope to carry the good form ahead and the focus is on training hard for the upcoming season. The next 18 months are very crucial and exciting for the Indian team. I believe the South African pitches shall have a lot to offer for the pace bowlers, the conditions in New Zealand and England have been ideal for swing bowling.
"While I am focussed on performing to the best of my potential at the same time, I would like to keep things simple."
After a long time, the Indian players enjoyed a good two-month break and Ishant used the time judiciously, planning his off-season training schedule as he sweated out at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore.
"My fitness program is a mix of bowling and strength training to keep me in shape for the season. I alternate every day between bowling work-outs at the nets or strength training in the gym. I focus on balance, strength and explosiveness during my training to build up the stamina and power that I need to play all match formats."