By Angshuman Hazra
I was passing via drawing-n-dining room* when I glanced at the TV screen. An IPL match was on, as you would expect this time of the year, unless a nine was recorded on the Richter scale. The image that I caught was of the replay of Deccan Chargers’ Ishant Sharma dismissing Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Tillekaratne Dilshan caught behind with a good, quick ball.
I came back in few minutes and sat down to watch Ishant bowl the sixth over of the RCB innings. He was fast and accurate… and he was hurrying a batsman I have not seen get hurried in quite sometime, the hugely-talented AB de Villiers.
Ishant clocked 149kmph and 150kmph in two deliveries. Manpreet Gony’s decently-fast-medium deliveries were clocking 133 odd on either side of Ishant’s over. The speed guns did not look to be malfunctioning, certainly not by much.
Instantly I remembered the lankier Ishant, all of 19 years, bowling at 140+ for 12 overs to Ricky Ponting at Perth in Jan 2008 to prise him out and decide the Test. I also remembered the underperforming Ishant that struggled to clock mid-130′s or get any accuracy or movement since the 2007-08 Australia tour. More specifically, since Ishant started his first IPL season in April 2008. I won’t name the team to avoid controversy!
Is the tide turning and the speed returning for Ishant Sharma? I loved rediscovering that Ishant can still produce that pace-bounce-length combo that worked for him in his first four to five months, irrespective of pitch and weather. Setting aside his recent performances, Ishant is India’s main hope to lead Test pace attack in the future. He is the only one, since Javagal Srinath, who can be a genuine quickie in his best days which, I am sure, are yet to come.
I hope he took the World Cup exclusion as badly and as personally as those speed guns seemed to indicate. And that can only be good news for India.
*Take the hint, mate. I was NOT in front of TV. If IPL was to be ‘corruption’, I would be ‘Anna bhau’ remember?
(Angshuman Hazra is a regular-turned-intermittent cricket blogger from the engineering profession. He loves to dwell between the little intriguing scripts revealed in passages of play and the amazingly unexpected stats thrown up by cricket from time to time. Once harbouring a dream of opening the bowling in whites for India, he still believes he can qualify for his department squad in office with a player pool of 13″. He blogs at pavilionview.blogspot.com)