When the 7th wicket fell down in the first innings of the first test match in Antigua, we didn’t expect Ishant Sharma to come ahead of Mohammad Shami. We were surprised to see Ishant ahead as we are aware that Mohmmad Shami can use the long handle and score some decent runs for the team. The decision of sending Ishant worked wonders for the Indian team as they were able to reach 267-8 from 206-7.
It only took 92 matches to score a half-century for ‘all-rounder’ Ishant Sharma
Ishant forged a 60 runs partnership with Ravindra Jadeja and helped Indian team to reach a respectable total. We all saw a different Ishant Sharma in that innings. The new Ishant Sharma wasn’t just blocking the ball after going behind the ball but also playing some watchful cover drives. The 2.0 version of Ishant’s was moving his legs and playing shots on both front foot and back foot
Sunil Gavaskar said while commentating that Ishant has done a lot of hard work on his batting in the last few months and it is paying off now. The man who has been used as a nightwatchman several times was working on his technique and new shots while the rest of India was busy in the dazzle of ICC Cricket World Cup 2019
How could we forget the Mohali Test where he rescued India alongside VVS Laxman?
Ishant has played 92 Test matches. He is the most senior player in the team currently. He has earlier played some good innings and saved India’s grace. In the second innings of Mohali Test in 2010 against Australia, the veteran played a memorable inning alongside VVS Laxman. India lost their 8 wickets at 124 while chasing 216 and then, Ishant Sharma came. The duo of Laxman and Sharma forged 81 runs partnership on a very difficult pitch and ensured a win. Ishant played a fighting inning of 31 runs in 92 balls which is probably the best innings he has ever played.
He has been in and out of the team from 2010 to 2016 but found a permanent seat in Test team later. Being honest, Sharma hasn’t been the top performer in the bowling department in all these years. His bowling average in the test is 33.63 and strike rate is 63.26. Wickets column for Sharma stands at 275 in 162 innings. There have been 9 instances when the tallest player in the Indian team has taken more than 5 wickets in a match and 1 instance of more than 10 wickets in a match. Overall it seems an underwhelming performance for a player who has been playing International Cricket for more than 12 years as a frontline bowler.
Is Ishant a tough nut to crack for bowlers?
After seeing a new batsman in Ishant in the first match, West Indies knew that Ishant will be a tough nut to crack. In the first innings of 2nd Test match in Jamaica, Ishant made his maiden half-century. It took him 92 matches and 126 innings to reach this milestone. The right-handed batsman scored 57 runs from 80 balls which included 7 fours. There may have 3 or 4 fours from the edge of the bat but few boundaries were proper drives and sweep which came from the middle of the blade.
It was arguably the first time when Ishant was playing like a proper batsman. He played a cover drive which made his captain go woo! He played sweeps and also a lofted shot which was ultimately his demise after scoring 57 runs. It was not just the technique and choice of shots but also the intent of the big man which impressed Cricket Pundits.
How many times do we see a batsman like Ishant Sharma dominating a partnership with a full-time batsman? In a 112 runs stand between these two, Ishant made 57 and looked more dominating. Captain Virat Kohli was very happy after the achievement of Sharma. He looked delighted and pumped his fist in the air at least 5 times to show his joy and cheerfulness.
The 2.0 version of Ishant Sharma must have been picked by the Indian team management before the series started. The decision of sending him at 9th before Shami couldn’t be random. The coach and captain must have seen the hard-work Ishant put in last few months. He must have impressed the coach and captain in nets to earn a promotion in the batting order.
What lies ahead for Ishant Sharma?
It might be too late for Ishant Sharma to wear a new profile in his cricketing career. He doesn’t have lots of cricket left with him to earn an all-rounder tag but surely he would want to make most of any chance knocking his doors.
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