India’s tour of England 2014: Ishant Sharma must get act right or risk exclusion
Ishant Sharma is the most experienced player in the line-up after MS Dhoni © Getty Images
Ishant Sharma had a miserable outing with the ball in India’s tour match against Leicestershire. The lanky pacer gave away 64 runs in only nine overs as the match ended in a draw. He was also given a hard time by some fans for his wayward bowling. Shrikant Shankar feels Ishant must get his act right or risk being excluded from India’s team for the first Test against England at Lord’s.
Conceding 64 runs in only nine overs is never a good sign for a bowler. These figures are not what an international bowler must have in a tour match against a second division team. Leicestershire are bottom of a nine-team Division Two in the England County Championship 2014 season. They have not won a single match this season after eight games. But at Grace Road against the Indians, their batsmen made merry against some average bowling.
Despite many bowlers giving away many runs, it was Ishant Sharma who seemed especially out of sorts. The lanky pacer bowled just nine overs, conceding 64 runs. He did pick up two wickets, but they came right at the end of the match. Ishant bowled a flurry of no-balls and was wayward throughout. This drew out the ire of the Indian fans at the ground, according to reports.
These are not good signs for Ishant and India. While always being an enigma, he has managed to play 55 Tests for India. Only MS Dhoni with 83 has played more Tests for India in this squad for the tour of England. Some very talented players in the world have not even played 50 Tests, but here is Ishant ready to add a few more to his tally. He came into the Test scene with some amazing spells, but ever since his honeymoon period got over, it has been the same back and forth progress till date.
Ishant was the leading wicket-taker, with 15 wickets, in India’s two-Test series against New Zealand away early in 2014. But even after such a good bowling performance, one really does not get the confidence to believe Ishant will produce the goods on a consistent level. Bhuvneshwar Kumar will probably be given the duty to lead India’s bowling attack come the first Test against England at Lord’s. Pankaj Singh did well against Leicestershire and Mohammed Shami is almost a sure shot in the final XI.
There is one more tour match against Derbyshire for the Indians and Ishant has to get his act right in that match. The other swing/seam bowlers have no Test experience of bowling in England. Ishant, however, does. So, it is imperative for India’s sake that Ishant improves and becomes a proper contender to play at Lord’s, or risk losing his spot in the series opener.
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(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)