His gangling physique makes him unmistakably prominent in a crowd even though Ishant Sharma doesn’t command much more than mild attention when he goes out for a stroll. So when he, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag were loitering around one of these afternoons, the ones to have noticed them went up and shook hands just with Sehwag.
Things may change soon enough though. Ishant was impressive almost throughout the Test series, but the wickets were coming mainly in ones and twos. A richer haul on Sunday capped a fine show by the Indian quicks and also helped the team make a statement that this bunch is indeed out to fight fire with fire.
“Sometimes, I do find it difficult to believe that I’m actually doing these things. Realistically, I’m just sticking to my plans without doing anything extra. I got the new ball today and that made me a little excited. The captain told me to be myself and that helped me calm down after the first two overs,” Ishant said.
Despite seeing an edge dropped in his first over and going for 18 in the second, India’s find of the tour bowled like a brave-heart and ripped the heart out of the Aussie line-up. Getting the ball to move into the right-handers at over 140 kmph, Ishant kept stunning them with the one that jumped and straightened off the seam.
It was the same delivery which surprised Andrew Symonds in the second Test in Sydney where umpire Steve Bucknor surprised many more by ruling that the batsman had not nicked it. With no damage suffered, Australia probably didn’t prepare for that particular delivery in the next Test in Perth, where Ishant struck only thrice. Ricky Ponting can testify just how telling those blows were.
“He’s different in the sense that he gets the ball back into right-handers, unlike most right-arm bowlers who move it away. He’s tall, hits the deck hard and gets the ball to jump awkwardly,” said Ponting. Having heard that standing close by, Ishant said Ponting was his hero too. “It’s special to get compliments from your favourite player.”
Here again Ishant got his man with the special one that jumped from a ‘fullish’ length and went straight instead of moving back. Like twice in Perth, Ponting was in no position to pull his bat away. Symonds was undone by a similar one but those deliveries were not unexpected. The way Ishant came back after some early setbacks was.
He couldn’t be blamed for losing it after getting Matthew Hayden to edge twice in his first two overs only to see the opener survive.
But Ishant was third time lucky. The third edge from Hayden in his next over settled into M.S. Dhoni’s gloves. It wasn’t the greatest of deliveries, outside off with a hint of movement away from the left-hander. What was important however was that he kept pitching it up to Hayden and not hold the length back after having gone for a few runs. He reaped the rewards in the end. as did his team.