Struggling Ishant Sharma's body language is too defensive

“When Ishant Sharma’s rhythm has been in sync with his fitness levels, he has bowled brilliantly. It is the responsibility of individual players to listen to the body and strike a balance between working on fitness and bowling in the nets,” say the author © AFP

By Balvinder Singh Sandhu

A friend and die-hard cricket fan posted on Facebook after Ishant Sharma’s crucial over in which he gave away 30 runs to bring Australia back into Saturday’s One-Day International (ODI) at Mohali: ‘Cricket is a batter’s game, more so in the shorter version which is harsher on a bowler than in Test cricket.”

With 44 needed off 18, the game seemed beyond the Australia’s grasp. Ishant, an experienced bowler bowls the 48th over and starts with one full and wide. Next one, short; third one a length ball, fourth short again; fifth another short ball and the last one… once again short. It seemed the pressure choked him and his long mane was not helping him to relax and think what needed to be done in crucial match situations.

Captain MS Dhoni was absolutely right when he said: “I think the last few overs were disappointing. It is an area of concern and it’s getting worse. Individuals will have to step up. You have to back your strength. You don’t need to spoon-feed bowlers at the international level.”

Thinking is part of a bowler’s action and it comes naturally to a street fighter. Bowling in the slog overs means you need to have a mindset of a street fighter, who comes up with a deceptive knockout blow when all seems lost. At present, Ishant’s body language is too defensive and he seems to be struggling to find his rhythm that matches his current fitness levels.

The slog overs need tactics according to who is at the other end. Implementing the plan is possible when bowlers are not struggling for rhythm or worrying about where he intends to bowl.

When a bowler is unbalanced, his head wobbles when his back and front foot lands. He will find it difficult to land the delivery where he intends to. When Ishant’s rhythm has been in sync with his fitness levels, he has bowled brilliantly. It is the responsibility of individual players to listen to the body and strike a balance between working on fitness and bowling in the nets.

A smart cricketer will understand and learn quickly from his experience or depend on the support staff to guide him to prepare for bigger challenges. The responsibility lies with all those who get their paychecks deposited in their account. The selectors have shown faith by retaining the same side for the remaining four matches. The onus now is on the players who are backed. It’s time to perform and justify their place.
 
(Balvinder Singh Sandhu played eight Tests and 22 ODIs. A crafty bowler who moved the ball both way, he was one of the heroes of the 1983 World Cup triumph. His delivery that bowled Gordon Greenidge, shouldering arms, in the epic final is etched in every Indian’s memory. He was an useful later-order batsman who scored 71, batting at No 9, on Test debut against Imran Khan, Sarfraz Nawaz, Abdul Qadir and Iqbal Qasim, and in his fourth Test 68 against Michael Holding, Andy Roberts Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall. After retirement, he became one of the finest coaches in the country and now imparts his knowledge through his site http://www.balvindersinghsandhu.com/)