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Ishant Sharma was the toast of the nation when he bowled a spine-tingling spell to take India to a memorable win at Lord’s. However, India were landed a major blow when Ishant was ruled out of the third Test due to an ankle injury. Bharath Ramaraj looks at how much of a blow it is for India to lose their key bowler.
It was June 23, 2011. The Indian team continued riding on their ICC World Cup 2011 win when they uncorked the champagne after they beat the West Indies in their own patch. Since then, India’s stocks overseas sank to depths as they lost eight Tests in a row. The greats, who served the country with diligence and distinction were slowly but surely put to pastures.
India had to wait for a little more than three years when the enigmatic seamer Ishant Sharma bounded to the crease with a profusion of energy to send one English batsman after another back to the pavilion with a barrage of bouncers. The bouncers may not have been spine chilling, but it certainly sent the already enervated England setup crashing to another defeat. It also meant that India won their first Test match since beating the West Indies at Kingston, Jamaica.
Unfortunately for India, the man of the moment, Ishant was ruled out of the crucial third Test match due to an ankle injury. So, how much of a blow is it for India that Ishant won’t play the third Test? Just remember that Ishant’s fine performance would have emboldened India, as here was someone who was able to sow the seeds of doubt in the batsmen’s mind.
Ishant has flaws as a seamer. His back of a length bowling can be predictable and his wrist position can sometimes go awry. But what he brings to the side is when on song, he can hit the deck and push batsmen back. India have a swing bowler in Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who can pitch it up and generate late swing. Even his lines are usually good, as he makes the batsman play. Yet, when in form Ishant adds a bit of bite to the line-up. You need that to win Tests away from home.
Since the Ashes 2013-14 debacle, England have been on a downward spiral. In fact, they haven’t won a Test since their victory against Australia at Chester-le-Street in Ashes 2013. MS Dhoni would have certainly loved it if Ishant, who showed that steely exterior to help India turn a fabled dream into reality at Lord’s was fit and firing.
(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)
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