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Feb 10, 2008 at 08:01pm IST

I was thinking about my own strengths: Ishant

Melbourne: Excited after bagging his first ODI Man of the Match title after a five-wicket win over Australia in the tri-series One-Dayer in Melbourne, young fast bowler Ishant Sharma said he was not deterred by the reputation of his opponents.

"I was not thinking about their strengths. I was thinking about my own strengths," Ishant said.

Acknowledging the support of senior players the 19-year-old bowler added, "I have become more consistent and the seniors have helped me. They told me about the nature of the wickets."

SMELLS LIKE TEAM SPIRIT: Ishant Sharma (R) attributed his improved performance to seniors and his trainers.

He said Sachin Tendulkar’s advice helped him recover after he was hit for 18 runs in an over. "He (Tendulkar) came to me and said not to think too much and bowl normally," Ishant recalled.

Ishant also attributed his improved performance and faster bowling speed to trainer Gregory king.

"Credit also goes to trainer Greg King for increasing my speed,” he said.

Impressed with his performance, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said he was satisfied that Ishant responded well to getting a new ball.

He said Ishant’s impressive delivery in the Test Series was the reason behind giving him the new ball, a strategy that resulted in a win for the Indian team.

"The pitch was on the slower side. So we thought to use Irfan later and he was good in the middle overs," Dhoni said explaining his strategy.

Ishant said he could bowl with a new ball only because he had perfected his rhythm. "The rhythm is important. That's how I could bowl with the new ball and the rhythm has helped me to get over the problem of no-balls."

Dhoni, who played a fine knock of unbeaten 17 as he went on to share a crucial match winning partnership of 58 runs with Rohit Sharma (39 not out), said that after losing five wickets for 102 they waited for the part-time bowlers to come on.

"The kind of conditions we were in, we thought our chance would come and we should wait for the right moment," he said.

Dhoni attributed good fielding performance by the India side to the growing fielding standards.

"When I was 19 or 20, the grounds were not up to the mark. But now they are better. It is making a difference and the fielding standard has gone up," he said.

Australian skipper Ricky Ponting conceded that his team’s uncharacteristically poor batting ultimately led to their defeat.

"Our batting was poor. There was good pace and bounce and India bowled pretty well," he said.

After their first defeat at the tri-series, Ponting said that the tournament is getting more challenging now.

"It's shaping up well. The next couple of games is going to be important," he said.