31-year-old Ishant Sharma is the flag bearer of this Indian bowling unit and was the major plus for India against New Zealand in the recently-concluded first Test.
The veteran went on to show why he is highly sorted and should be lauded for his efforts on a consistent basis. He has been a consistent factor for Team India for a long time.
And the return over the last few years have been terrific. This is a phase when Ishant is at his absolute best.
The veteran pacer is 97 Tests old and raced to 297 career wickets. One of the most consistent and celebrated bowlers, Ishant’s wings grew largely since 2018 in terms of being more proactive in terms of picking up wickets.
2019 was terrific for the senior pacer, who claimed 25 wickets in six Tests at an average of 15.56.
The Indian cricket team, which dominated the show this year, is blessed with a dream pace attack.
The pack of pacers looks so settled in their quest for glory in the longest format.
Although, they did allow the Kiwis to slip away with some indiscipline and lack of planning in Wellington.
One hopes this can be a one-time affair.
Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli will be happy with the leadership qualities Ishant has shown time and time again.
Ishant has a total number of 122 Test wickets to his name in South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia.
He went on to surpass the legendary Zaheer Khan, who claimed a tally of 119 wickets.
Ishant is now the highest wicket-taker for India as a pacer in SENA countries. Former Indian spinner Anil Kumble, who has a record 141 wickets, leads the chart.
The Indian pacer now has 41 scalps in six Tests in New Zealand. He is averaging 28.10 with the ball and has three five-wicket hauls here. In the must-win second Test, India will need him to lead the line once again.
Here we look at Ishant’s best spells in SENA nations.
Ishant claims career-best figures at Lord’s in 2014
This was one of the best shows from an Indian bowler away from home and a charged up Ishant Sharma was on top gear.
During the Indian cricket team’s 2014 tour of England, the lanky pacer registered his best career Test figures in the second match at Lord’s. It was a slow start for the pacer.
He was unsuccessful in the first innings after registering figures of 0/61. However, in the second innings, his 7/74 floored the hosts.
The pacer was all over the Englishmen, who didn’t have any answers to his offerings. England went on to lose the Test match by 95 runs with the fast bowler wiping out the middle order.
It was one Test match bowling spell that will forever be remembered. Batting first, India scored 295.
England mustered 319. In reply, India amassed 342 runs in the second innings. Ishant’s heroics saw the hosts get bowled out for 223.
Ishant wrecks havoc with 6/51 versus New Zealand in 2014
In February 2014, the Indian cricket team had floored New Zealand in the first innings of the second Test at Wellington. The Kiwis were stunned after folding for 192.
It was Ishant’s magic that helped the visitors get hold of New Zealand. He was superb for Team India and claimed 6/51. He derived a lot of help from the conditions.
The main asset of the side got a valuable company in the form of Mohammed Shami (4/70) to wipe out the Kiwis.
Team India went on to score 438 and had New Zealand at 94/5 in the second innings. However, the Test ended in a draw. Brendon McCullum’s magical triple century was the reason behind New Zealand’s major escape.
However, Ishant’s spell in another SENA country will rule hearts for a long time.
Ishant claims 4/41 against Australia in 2018
This was a Test which saw India lose in the famed tour of Australia in 2018-19. With India winning the first Test, Australia were always going to come hard and it happened in Perth.
Australia, batting first went on to amass 326. It was Ishant, who was India’s most successful bowler with figures of 4/41.
He got the important wicket of Travis Head (58) and claimed the other three in the form of Peter Handscomb, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.
The exploits by him didn’t allow Australia to run away in the first innings. In the second innings, where Australia folded for 243, the right-arm fast bowler played able support to Bumrah and Shami.
India went on to lose the match after a poor batting display, but one got the hang of the bowler and what he can offer away from home in the game.
Ishant the lone bright spot versus NZ at the Basin Reserve in 2020
The senior pacer cleared a fitness test ahead of the first match of the two-Test series. And, the right-arm pacer was terrific for India in the first innings.
He claimed figures of 5/68 and was consistent at large. Notably, out of the three pacers, his influence caught the eye.
At a time when both Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah were inconsistent and lacked ideas, Ishant stood out to give India something to cheer upon.
After being sent into bat, India were bowled out for 165. With Ishant’s efforts, New Zealand were reeling at one stage (225/7). The hosts added 100-plus runs from there on and took the game away.
Another flop show in batting for Team India meant that the bowlers didn’t have anything to go after in the second innings.
New Zealand chased a target of nine with a blink of an eye. However, Ishant showed why he is the carrier of this Indian pace attack and will continue to be a major force in the upcoming Test matches for India.