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With a spell of seven for 74 against England at Lord’s on Day Five, Ishant Sharma thoroughly vindicated team India’s persistence with him. Shiamak Unwalla looks at the spell that blew apart England in less than a session.
Gone are the days of Ishant Sharma jokes — at least for now. If ever a single spell in a single session has turned the tide of a game in moments, it is Ishant’s spell in the post-lunch session on Day Five. Very rarely has an Asian bowler bounced out England in a manner as comprehensive as Ishant has done.
It all started with the final over before Lunch. Moeen Ali, who had looked markedly uncomfortable against spin but quite secure against pace, ducked into one aimed at his ribs; he committed the cardinal error of taking his eyes off the ball, only for the ball to be taken by Cheteshwar Pujara at short leg. After lunch, Joe Root and Matt Prior came out all guns blazing. Mohammed Shami and Ishant started off bowling short, only for the pair to deal in a flurry of boundaries.
Just when the Indian spectators and fans must have been getting anxious, Ishant induced a pull — born out of false confidence — from Matt Prior, only to have it gobbled up by Murali Vijay at deep-midwicket. In came Ben Stokes, fresh from two ducks in two innings, and on a pair. Out went Ben Stokes, slogging wildly at a short ball and top edging to Pujara, who ran from mid-on to take a skier.
And then it finally happened. Root the rock; solid, dependable Root; Root, Lord of Lord’s, who had handled the short-pitched stuff with supreme ease and temperament, pulled another short one from Ishant. Stuart Binny did not have to move quarter of an inch either way at deep midwicket.
With Root gone as well, it was only a matter of time before India would be celebrating. Stuart Broad did not inspire any confidence whatsoever against Ishant’s probing short stuff, and eventually fended one off his gloves to MS Dhoni. Ishant finished with figures of 23-6-74-7 in a man of the match-winning performance, and India won its first match at Lord’s since 1986.
It is pure conjecture to say what this spell might mean for England psychologically. But getting bounced out at the home of cricket by an Indian bowler who ended up with seven wickets could set the tone for the rest of the series. If Ishant can continue with this level of persistent aggression, it could augur very well for India indeed. In any case, this spell from Ishant will go down in history as one of the most fearsome ever seen by an Asian at Lord’s.
(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)
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