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Ishant Sharma’s return for 5th Test at The Oval: What does it mean for India?

Ishant Sharma will add fire to the Indian bowling © Getty Images
Ishant Sharma will add fire to the Indian bowling © Getty Images

Seen in full flow during the training session, Ishant Sharma looks certain to feature in the XI for India’s final Test against England at The Oval. Abhijit Banare looks at what Ishant’s return can mean for India.

Fortunes can change in a span of few days. Coming in to this series, Ishant Sharma was termed as India’s lead bowler. And quite predictably, he was ridiculed and least was expected of him. He has been in good form since the New Zealand series; yet his erratic line never allowed him to be tagged as a dependent bowler. But a sensational spell at Lord’s and the inexperience of the pacers evident in the next two Tests have changed the way Ishant is looked upon.

Perhaps Ishant has been bit more consistent than before. With 15 wickets in two Tests in New Zealand and 10 in this series, Ishant is certainly an improved bowler. His injury created a gap in the pace attack with Bhuvneshwar in sublime touch and no one to back him from the other end at Southampton and Old Trafford.

India came into the series with Ishant followed by Bhuvneshwar and Mohammed Shami as the top three pacers. With Shami off-colour and ‘unlucky’ Pankaj Singh’s inability to maintain consistency meant that England had it relatively easy.

It does not an Inspector Closeau to decipher that pace is going to be the key for any team playing in England. Hence consistency matters more than experience, something which Sri Lanka showed in June. With Bhuvneshwar toiling at one end, there has not much response from the other.

The load was somewhat taken off when Varun Aaron showed his ability with the pace, and Ishant’s return would mean that Dhoni can rotate his pace bowlers in short spells rather than over-burdening Bhuvneshwar, who is already in a spot of bother with his fitness thanks to the long spells. Moreover, Ishant can share the new ball with Bhuvneshwar.

Hence Ishant’s return in a way adds more solidity to the attack. If Aaron does perform the same way as he did at Old Trafford, the Ishant, Bhuvneshwar and Aaronwill be good enough to consistently keep up the pressure on England. And if India happen to bowl first under overcast conditions, then you are looking at the visitor’s best chance of levelling the series.
Catch all the coverage of India’s tour to England here

(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)

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