Former Indian captain and ex-BCCI President Sunil Gavaskar has said that the return of Ishant Sharma will act as a confidence booster for the Indian team. He further said that a successful past record at the Oval will help India mentally ahead of the fifth test against England at the venue.

He said, “Ishant was the one who destroyed England in the second innings (at Lord’s), and that too on a day when the pitch would have slowed down. The pitch (at Lord’s) would have been at its liveliest on Day 1 but on Days 4 and 5 it generally slows down and to destroy England then (was remarkable). Certainly India will feel that with Ishant back in the side, they have every hope of trying to level the series.”

He added, “I think it will be hard on Pankaj Singh. But the fact of the matter is that he has only got two wickets in two Tests despite bowling long spells. You can argue that there were dropped catches, a couple of lbw calls that didn’t go his way but you have to look at the results and if the results have shown that two wickets (have come) in two Tests, then you will have to drop him from the team and bring in somebody who has seven wickets in an innings. I would look to have a regular opening batsman like Shikhar back, because Shikhar at least got 37 (at the Rose Bowl) where he looked pretty good. Gambhir looked completely uncomfortable and that is not the kind of confidence building situation (the lower order needs).”

He also said, “Let’s look at it this way; The Oval has been a very good ground for the Indian teams over the years. Our first ever win in England in 1971 came at the Oval and then again in 2007, we won a series here. So generally the Oval has been a very good ground for the Indian team. There are a lot of times when you come to a ground and you just feel that sense of comfort and I believe that the Indians will feel a sense of comfort when they come over here.”