Indian cricket Test bowler, Ishant Sharma, finally came out of the blocks to notch a stunning performance against England in the recently concluded first Test at Edgbaston. India did go on to lose the opener by 31 runs, but Ishant showed his pedigree as a thinking bowler, who loves to keep things simple. He picked 5/51 on Day 3 of the first Test and ended with 6 wickets in total.
The senior pacer has been in the Test set-up for a decade now and this series could be the one where he makes a serious impact. Ishant has already started the series on a bright note and come Lord’s, he will be excited to have another crack at the Englishmen.
He bowled a lot of straight balls which created issues for the England batsmen. Ishant was tireless during two one-hour spells on either side of lunch on Day 3 and that gave Kohli the cushion to push on. Ishant is a different breed of a Test bowler and his energy is laudable. His approach has changed over the years, as he is now the most senior pacer in the side.
Ishant has become more responsible and that shows the maturity in the way he is approaching Test cricket.
Ishant racks it up at Edgbaston
Ishant came to life during the first session on Day 3 when he squared up Dawid Malan and got him to edge a delivery after pitching the ball in the middle stump region. Few overs later, the right-arm pacer dismissed the dangerous looking Jonny Bairstow. This time it was an in-swinger that straightened after pitching and got the batsman to jab at the ball with Shikhar Dhawan accepting the catch.
Two balls later, he got Ben Stokes with an out-swinger from around the wicket. Stokes couldn’t help but edge the ball to Virat Kohli. Moments later he dismissed Jos Buttler in the same over with a ball that was short of length outside the off stump. Three wickets in a single over did the trick for Ishant, who came alive in the spell at Edgbaston.
County cricket paid dividends
This kind of a performance was expected out of Ishant, who has been putting in a commendable shift outside the subcontinent. He may not have been amongst a lot of wickets but did an able job in South Africa earlier in January. Then came in the performances in County, this year, which gave him the belief.
What bode well for Ishant was that he bowled many overs for Sussex and his rhythm was spot on. The bagful of overs helped him in adjusting to the conditions and he kept charging in. In his debut for the side, he announced his arrival in English cricket by taking five wickets. He was key for his side against Leicestershire and then Somerset.
Ishant stated to the ICC that, “Playing county cricket helped me a lot. It was a good experience and I enjoyed it. Playing for Sussex, bowling with the Dukes ball – the good thing was ‘I had overs behind me’.”
Ishant has been impressive outside subcontinent
Ishant picked 6 wickets in this match and has 244 Test scalps to his name in 83 Tests. The five-wicket haul was a supreme effort and it gave us glimpses of the 7/74 performance he delivered in 2014 at Lord’s. When one looks at his performances in SENA countries (South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia) he has a total of 94 wickets.
That shows his character away from Asian conditions. When he sent Stuart Broad on his way with another snick behind, it was his eighth five-wicket haul. Out of this, seven have come outside India. His success was a combination of sticking to a plan and the experience of the conditions guided him to come strong. He utilized the swing well against the left-handers.
Ishant will be expected to continue the superb show in the remainder of the series.
Ishant a leader of this pace attack
There is no doubt that Ishant deserves to be lauded for his hard work. In overseas matches, he has been holding one end tight. That gives the likes of Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav to be more expressive.
Ishant leads this Indian pace attack and could be a pivotal factor for Kohli in the time to come. With four more Tests to go, expect Ishant to come strong at English batsmen and get wickets in abundance. The 29-year-old is offering a significantly different threat to that of the 2014 tour. Back then at Lord’s, he used bouncers to get the English batsmen back to the pavilion.
The change in approach and versatility means that he comes in as a complete Test bowler. The lanky pacer is clearly enjoying English conditions, and once Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar return to the fold, it is unlikely that he will make way for the duo.