Ishant Sharma took four wickets in the first One-Day International against Sri Lanka at Cuttack © Getty Images (File Photo)
Ishant Sharma took four wickets in the first One-Day International against Sri Lanka at Cuttack © Getty Images (File Photo)

Ishant Sharma’s career-best figures of four for 34 in the first One-Day International (ODI) between India and Sri Lanka marked his return to ODIs after almost nine months. While he is not known for his consistency, Ishant may be vital to India’s plans during the ICC World Cup 2015, feels Shiamak Unwalla.

Ishant Sharma is perhaps one of the most enigmatic Indian cricketers in modern times. One never quite knows whether to love him or hate him, or for how long to do either. He is capable of bowling a tremendous spell at the start of the innings and then proceed to bungle up the match by bowling a disastrous one later on. And he is equally capable of winning a Test match for India at Lord’s.

Ishant’s ODI record shows just this discrepancy. In 73 matches he has taken 106 wickets at a decent average and strike rate. He has taken four-wicket hauls on five occasions, but is yet to take a fifer. However, his economy rate is a bloated 5.7, which is a bit too high for a strike bowler. Below is his overall ODI record:

M

W

BBI

Ave

Econ

SR

4-fors

5-fors

73

106

4/34

30.57

5.7

32.1

5

0

Given that India have are going to tour Australia in just about a month, it is prudent to check Ishant’s figures Down Under. Ishant’s performances in Australia and New Zealand are significantly better than his overall ones.

In the 13 ODIs he has played in Australia and New Zealand, he has grabbed 19 wickets at an improved average and strike rate. Even his economy rate is better, albeit by mere decimal points:

M

W

BBI

Ave

Econ

SR

4-fors

5-fors

13

19

4/38

27.57

5.66

29.2

2

0

Off the 13 ODIs he has played Down Under, only five have come against Australia. While five is a very small sample size, it is nonetheless heartening to see that Ishant has thrived against Australia in Australia. His average and strike rate become outstanding, and his economy rate falls by over 1 run per over, which is quite a significant margin.

M

W

BBI

Ave

Econ

SR

4-fors

5-fors

5

9

4/38

19.33

4.55

25.4

1

0

In fact, Ishant has a better average against Australia in Australia than any Indian with a five-wicket qualification. Even in terms of strike rate he is right at the top, bettered only by S Sreesanth:

Name

Period

M

W

Ave

Econ

SR

4-fors

5-fors

Ishant Sharma

2008-2008

5

9

19.33

4.55

25.4

1

0

S Sreesanth

2008-2008

5

9

20.44

4.92

24.8

0

0

Praveen Kumar

2008-2012

4

8

20.87

4.51

27.7

1

0

Manoj Prabhakar

1991-1992

7

10

22.5

3.81

35.4

0

0

Venkatapathy Raju

1991-1992

4

6

24.5

4.08

36

0

0

Kapil Dev

1980-1992

20

21

27.52

3.29

50.1

1

0

Vinay Kumar

2012-2012

3

5

27.8

5.14

32.4

0

0

Chetan Sharma

1986-1986

7

10

28.3

5.2

32.6

0

0

Ajit Agarkar

2000-2004

6

10

28.9

5.38

32.2

0

1

Ravi Shastri

1985-1992

15

15

31.4

3.54

53.1

0

1

Ishant’s form in the first ODI against Sri Lanka augurs well for India, but it is his performance in Australia that will truly be critical to India’s chances — from the Tests against Australia to the Triangular series between India, Australia, and England to the ICC World Cup 2015 — over the next few months.

Complete coverage of ICC World Cup 2015

Complete coverage of Sri Lanka tour of India 2014

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic. You can follow him on Twitter @ShiamakUnwalla)