Senior Indian pacer Ishant Sharma sustained an ankle tear in the recently-concluded Ranji Trophy 2019-20 match between Delhi and Vidarbha.
The right-arm fast bowler is now most likely to miss the upcoming two-match Test series against New Zealand next month.
India’s tour of New Zealand started on Friday with the five-match T20I series and the Tests will be played from February 21 onwards.
Ishant, who is a crunch part of the side, went on to twist his ankle on his follow-through while bowling against Vidarbha earlier this week.
The experienced pacer suffered from an injury while appealing for an LBW decision against visiting captain Faiz Fazal in the second innings.
Ishant has been advised six weeks rest, however, the BCCI will make an assessment in consultation with the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru.
“Ishant Sharma’s MRI report shows a Grade 3 ankle tear and it is serious. He has been advised six weeks of rest and rehabilitation. It is indeed a big blow,” DDCA general secretary Vinod Tihara told PTI.
Fingers are crossed on Ishant’s participation and it remains to be seen whether there is an outside chance of him making a cut.
A report in Mumbai Mirror stated that the Test team is almost finalized and Ishant isn’t a part of the same. India, who lead the ICC World Test Championship, will want to leave no stones unturned to get the job done in New Zealand.
They have won all seven Test matches in the ICC World Test Championship and there are another 120 points for the taking. If India is to do well, then pacers will play a major role. Here we analyze how Ishant’s absence could be a big blow for Team India.
Ishant has been India’s principle bowler in Test cricket
Ishant has been India’s principle bowler in Test cricket. He has been part of the side for a long time and the performances have improved.
Ishant is blessed as the Indian cricket team has a dream pace attack. One of the most consistent and celebrated bowlers, Ishant’s wings grew largely since 2018. He became more proactive in terms of picking up wickets.
The pack of pacers looks so settled in their quest for glory in the longest format. The 31-year-old pacer, who is the senior-most of the lot, boasts of leadership qualities.
He has also started to find joy in Tests at home of late. Ishant enjoyed his best returns in the historic Day-Night Test against Bangladesh in November 2019.
India won that match by an innings and 46 runs with the pacer claiming a fifer. The win helped Virat Kohli’s men seal the two-match Test series by a 2-0 margin.
Having said that, the Delhi speedster is consistent in his approach and is set to reach the 100-Test landmark. That is a remarkable journey to have in a cricket career.
Ishant’s performances in the past two years, in particular, have been strong
In the year 2018, Ishant played a total of 11 Test matches and claimed 41 wickets at an average of 21.80. His best figures were 5/51.
And then in 2019, the right-arm pacer claimed a whopping 25 scalps in six Tests at 15.56 to highlight his importance for the Virat Kohli-led side.
The senior cricketer is irreplaceable in this Test team and forms a potent attack alongside Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah.
Also, there is the presence of Umesh Yadav, who has been a revelation at home conditions and will likely replace Ishant in the starting XI against the Kiwis. Meanwhile, Navdeep Saini will take his place in the squad.
Recently, the bowler claimed 11 wickets from just two Ranji Trophy matches to show his consistency factor.
He claimed eight scalps against Baroda and then claimed three against Vidarbha. This shows he has been bowling well for a whole now.
In New Zealand, the pacer could have offered substance alongside Bumrah and Shami. India’s bowling unit lacks the cutting edge without the services of Ishant. It remains to be seen how skipper Kohli manages the same.
Ishant’s performances away from home has been impressive
The Indian pacer is ideal to hold things from one end and also pick up wickets with a stubborn length and line. He boasts of a career economy rate of 3.17 tells us the story why.
The conditions in New Zealand would have helped Ishant extracting aplenty from the surface. His deliveries coming in and the occasional ones shaping away could have troubled the Kiwis.
Notably, the pacer has tasted success in New Zealand earlier and knows how to go about things.
In five Tests here, Ishant has claimed a total of 23 wickets with a best of 6/51 at an average of 30.91. Interestingly, his six-for here is one of his best career spells in Test cricket.
In 96 Tests, Ishant has a total of 292 scalps at an average of 32.68. He has claimed 10 five-wicket hauls and is also the third-highest wicket-taker among Indian pacers after Kapil Dev and Zaheer Khan.
When you look at his performances away from home, 194 scalps have come outside India. He has claimed eight five-wicket hauls as well. These are encouraging numbers.
In SENA nations, Ishant has taken 117 wickets in 37 Test matches. His best returns have been in England where he has accounted for 43 wickets in 12 matches.
With the senior bowler growing more as a cricketer of late, his success rate could have got higher in New Zealand.
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