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With India’s comprehensive annihilation at the hands of England in the fourth Test at Old Trafford, India now head to The Oval trailing the hosts 2-1 after being in the lead after their famous win at Lord’s. The man who bowled India to victory at Lord’s, Ishant Sharma, is likely to make a come-back after missing out on the third and fourth Tests due to an injury. Shiamak Unwalla feels that his return is great news for a struggling India.
It is rightly said that the true value of an object is known once it is lost. The same holds true for Ishant Sharma. While he was in the team, he was often ridiculed by the media; everything from his skill to his temperament was made out to be the butt of a joke or two.
And yet, in spite of all his inconsistent, erratic, mercurial shortcomings, he was the man who helped India win a Test at Lord’s after 28 years. India looked competent in the first Test at Trent Bridge. They were outstanding at Lord’s. And then they crashed and burned in both Southampton and Manchester.
The difference between the side in the first two games and the next two: Ishant Sharma. While Ishant may not always look threatening, or even potent, the fact that he is a workhorse — something MS Dhoni is always in need of — meant that he held one end up while the other end could be attacked.
In the two Tests he was not a part of, the role was being fulfilled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who did a good enough job. But in being used as a stock bowler, Bhuvneshwar’s real value as a wicket-taker was lost. When both Ishant and Bhuvneshwar played, Dhoni could use one to attack and the other to contain. With only one, Dhoni struggled.
Mohammed Shami has not been in great form, and while Pankaj Singh looked very impressive in patches, he showed that he was unable to sustain pressure for extended periods of time; something Ishant excels at. The pacer mentioned that he felt he was not appreciated by anyone but his teammates. Perhaps his absence has made his true worth now apparent.
If Ishant is fit enough to play at The Oval, Dhoni would get a shot in the arm . Varun Aaron was impressive with his pace, Bhuvneshwar has been rock-steady throughout but Ishant has been Dhoni’s favourite pacer for a while now. With these three operating at The Oval, India’s campaign could well be back on track.
(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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