New Delhi: Before the start of IPL 2023, Ishant Sharma and Mohit Sharma were almost forgotten as fast-bowlers. The duo last featured in an IPL playing eleven in 2021 and 2020 respectively, but they have now put in match-winning performances for Delhi Capitals and Gujarat Titans in the ongoing season.
Having seen seasoned pros like Ishant and Mohit step up and play crucial hand in their teams’ victories in IPL 2023, former Australia speedster Brett Lee pointed out that performances of the veteran fast-bowling duo have shown the importance of experience while playing in the competition, irrespective of their age.
“Maybe I should change my name to Brett Sharma and make a comeback (laughs). It just seems like everyone with Sharma surname is making a comeback, which is great. I was really happy for Ishant Sharma, who didn’t play a game since 2021 and made the IPL comeback after probably 700 days of being away from the tournament and picking up some wickets and bowling extremely well. So I was proud of him,” said in a virtual interaction organised by JioCinema, where he’s an expert for 2023 IPL.
Mohit impressed with his off-cutters and slower deliveries to pick 2/18 against Punjab Kings and take Player of the Match award. Against Lucknow Super Giants, he mixed yorkers and slower balls very well to defend 12 runs in the final over, including taking out KL Rahul and Marcus Stoinis on successive deliveries, giving away just four runs.
Ishant, on the other hand, looked in good rhythm during Delhi’s tight four-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders, and even got some extra bounce to pick 2/19. He followed it up with 1/18 against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Delhi Capitals’ seven-run win.
“It just goes to show that when you are playing in the IPL, it doesn’t matter what age you have, experience counts a lot. Being able to absorb and deflect that pressure means a lot as well.
So, Ishant Sharma was outstanding and any opportunity you get, to keep playing through in that age bracket is also important, which means they are getting better with age when you mention those guys (Ishant and Mohit). I am super impressed with both,” said Lee.
In terms of younger fast-bowlers, Lee has been impressed by Chennai Super Kings fast bowler Tushar Deshpande, who has picked 12 wickets in seven games at an average of 23.16 and economy rate of 10.97 and vividly recalled him taking out Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma with a beautiful delivery at the Wankhede Stadium.
“I have been enjoying watching Tushar Deshpande bowl. He’s got a beautiful action, swings the ball away and I am also thinking of the ball he bowled to Rohit Sharma when they played against the Mumbai Indians. He bowled the ball, the seam position was perfect, upright and angled in towards the middle stump,” the Australian said.
But then it swung away to hit the top of off-stump of Rohit, which for me was one of the balls of that week, if not the tournament. He continues to improve and impress. Watching all the action makes you feel like you want to be a team-mate of theirs as it’s exciting and great to see these young guys coming through,” he added.
Apart from Deshpande, youngsters Akash Singh and Matheesha Pathirana have flourished in the Chennai set-up. While Akash has been effective in power-play, Pathirana with his sling bowling action reminding many of Sri Lanka bowling great Lasith Malinga, has been exceptional in bowling in the death overs.
Lee credits the trio’s success to MS Dhoni and Chennai think-tank giving them crucial learnings and confidence to deliver in the roles assigned to them.
“The great thing about MS Dhoni and CSK family is that they bring on these young guys coming through. Deshpande is being like a sponge right now under MSD’s guidance; he’s learning so much,” he said.
“Dhoni is like a father figure who keeps looking after them, making sure they are exactly getting what they need and give them the confidence to express themselves as athletes. One thing which doesn’t get in Dhoni’s stats column is the work he’s doing off the field, being a great man-manager and a role model,” he added.
(With Inputs From IANS)