Nobody knows Ishant Sharma better than Venkatesh Prasad. It was during Prasad's tenure as bowling coach that Ishant produced some of his scintillating performances. He was one of the fastest and most destructive bowlers in the world during 2008-2010. However, much like other Indian pacers, Munaf Patel, Rudra Pratap Singh and S Sreesanth, his pace has slowed down considerably and from fast bowler, he was reduced to a medium pacer.

The lanky Delhi pacer hit nadir during the ongoing one-day series against Australia and was taken to the cleaners. Prasad, however, feels Ishant has the ability to bounce back and the team management should give him the confidence.

"I haven't seen many bowlers who spend so much time in the nets. He used to bowl for an hour minimum. Ishant has a fantastic attitude; he always wants to learn and improve. For a tall boy like him, he is a very safe fielder. He is the most hardworking fast bowler I have seen. I was delighted to work with him because he was very sincere, honest and committed. Having said that, he has been around for almost five years and that's a lot for someone who is only 23-24. He is not performing that consistently as he would have liked and that's the area he needs to focus on," Prasad told TOI on Friday.

Prasad feels Ishant is low on confidence and that's affecting his bowling. "He is very low on confidence because he hasn't been amongst the wickets. He is a bit wayward at times; bowling both sides of wickets and his length is on the shorter side. Big question is why it's happening? One needs to sit down with him and analyse. It might be small technical adjustment which needs to be addressed quickly. One or two good games could change things for him," he said.

The critics have blamed Ishant's long hair for his poor show but Prasad dismisses this. "It's after the delivery that his hair come in front of his eyes and not before. (Laughs) A return catch might be a problem for him but not the delivery. As long as he is delivering the ball properly, I don't see it as a problem," he said.

The new format is also not helping the pacer but Prasad feels bowlers should take it as a challenge. "There's no point complaining. The shorter formats are always in favour of the batsmen. As a bowler you got to take it as a challenge. The death bowling has been a concern for a long time now. So it's important to reinvent yourself as a bowler and have variety. Bowlers need to work on yorkers, different kinds of slower deliveries. You need to be mentally stronger. What I am seeing is the inconsistency and you can't blame Ishant alone. They are impatient and try too many things early on," the ex-India pacer said.

Prasad agrees with Dhoni that the bowlers have to apply their own mind instead of being spoon fed. "When a player is not mentally strong, they tend to listen to coaches too much without applying their own minds. That's what Dhoni said the other day, the word 'spoon fed'. What works for someone may not be good for the other. What I have been observing of late is that the players are waiting to be told instead of thinking on their own," he said.

Prasad is looking forward to work with the national team again, as he feels he is ready for the challenge. "Of course, I am waiting for the opportunity. I want the board to realize that there are a handful of coaches who can coach the national team and do well. Appointing foreign coaches doesn't guarantee you the success. In 1983 and 1985, we didn't have any foreign coach still we won the championships. We won 2007 T20 World Cup without a foreign coach. It's important to trust our people," said the former Karnataka pacer.

Ishant Sharma More Stills

Keywords: Ishant Sharma , Venkatesh Prasad, bowlers ,Indian pacers, Munaf Patel, Rudra Pratap Singh, S Sreesanth, lanky Delhi pacer,batsmen, yorkers, slower deliveries,Dhoni , foreign coach , championships, T20 World Cup ,cricket news,sports news, Karnataka pacer