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Ishant Sharma, born on September 2, 1988, is the leader of India’s pace attack in Test cricket. The pacer has been an enigma for a major part of his career but has shown some encouraging consistency in recent times. Nishad Pai Vaidya enlists 10 facts you should know about the lanky fast bowler.
1. Ishant Sharma is one of the tallest Indian cricketers. At 1.93 metres, or 6’4’’, he stands tall above his teammates. Abey Kuruvilla, at 6’6’’ is often recognized as the tallest Indian cricketer.
2. Ishant was a part of the India under-19 side for the tour of England in 2006. Interestingly, he made his Under-19 one-day and Test debut alongside Virat Kohli. And, the duo also made their First-Class and Ranji Trophy debuts in the same match, which was against Tamil Nadu in the 2006-07 season. In the same game, Murali Vijay also made his Ranji Trophy debut for Tamil Nadu.
3. During the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2008 auction, Ishant was picked by the Kolkata Knight Riders for USD 950,000. In the tournament, he bowled 253 deliveries. Thus, each delivery cost almost USD 3755. He only picked up seven wickets in the tournament, which meant that each wicket cost USD 135,714.30. Ishant’s price came down by the time the IPL 2011 auctions arrived and he went for less than half the price as USD 450,000.
4. In partnership with VVS Laxman, Ishant holds the record for the highest stand for the ninth wicket in a successful run-chase in Test cricket. Chasing 216 to win, India were reduced to 124 for eight when Ishant joined Laxman. Drawing the game wasn’t an option as there were more than two sessions on the final day. With Ishant holding one end, Laxman counterattacked and they put up a stand of 81, which took India within 11 runs of victory. Ishant was dismissed a gritty 31, but Laxman saw it through with Pragyan Ojha. Laxman and Ishant broke the record set by Winston Benjamin and Jeff Dujon against Pakistan at Barbados in 1988.
5. In an Indian Premier League (IPL) 2011 encounter against the Kochi Tuskers Kerala at the Nehru Stadium, Kochi, Ishant embarrassed the hosts with a spell that breathed fire. Deccan Chargers were defending a modest 129 and Ishant ran through the Kochi batting order after Dale Steyn got the first wicket. In the second over, he dismissed Parthiv Patel, Raiphi Gomez and Brad Hodge to reduce Kochi to two for four. He then returned in the fourth over to get Kedar Jadhav and Mahela Jayawardene as Kochi were now 11 for six. Ishant ended with figures of five for 12 and Kochi were bowled out for 74.
6. During the tour to Australia in 2011-12, he clocked 152.2 kmph during the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne. During India’s previous tour to Australia in 2007-08, he had touched 147, but he breached the 150-mark on this visit. There are reports of Javagal Srinath bowling at a faster pace, but Ishant’s delivery is one of the fastest bowled by an Indian.
7. Though Ishant’s battles with Ponting have become a part of cricketing folklore, he has been most successful against Alastair Cook in international cricket. Ishant has dismissed Cook eight times in 18 meetings, seven off which came in 11 Test matches. When compared to that Ponting has fallen to Ishant eight times in 22 meetings, with seven of those coming in 12 Tests. But, Ian Bell is one man who has struggled against the lanky pacer.
8. Along with Kapil Dev, Ishant is the only Indian pace bowler to have picked up six or more wickets four times in an overseas Test match. While Kapil’s hauls came Pakistan (two), Australia and the West Indies, Ishant has two such figures in New Zealand and one each in England and the West Indies.
9. Ishant has the dubious distinction of recording his best and worst figures in Test cricket in the same match. Against New Zealand at Wellington earlier this year, he took six for 51 in the first innings to better his previous best of six for 55. However, in the second innings, he failed to take a wicket and conceded 164 runs as Brendon McCullum and company made merry. Ishant did go on to better his figures of six for 51 later in the year as he bounced England out at Lord’s during his remarkable spell of seven for 74.
10. Ishant puts a high price on his wicket and can bat with a lot of grit. For men who have batted at No 11 in more than 30 Test innings, Ishant has the fifth highest average at 12.50. In innings where he has been sent as a night-watchman, he has faced about 29 deliveries on an average. This speaks of his ability to fight it out in the middle and provide solidity to the team.
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