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All eyes on Ishant as India aim to dish out more chin music

In Friday's nets, lanky India pacer Ishant Sharma was testing out his new-found confidence as a bowler with a lethal bouncer on his teammates.

cricket Updated: Jul 31, 2014 12:32 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times

As the delivery continued to follow him, Ajinkya Rahane kept arching backwards to get away from its line before he finally fell flat on his back. It was quick, evasive action from the batsman against a quick one fired in by Ishant Sharma.

In Friday's nets, the lanky India pacer was testing out his new-found confidence as a bowler with a lethal bouncer on his teammates.

This India pace attack was tipped to have some tricks up its sleeves, but going into the series, no one thought playing the rising ball would be an issue with the England batsmen.

The perception has changed after the Lord's Test. Five of Sharma's seven victims in the second innings perished facing the short ball.

Weakness spotted

A dominant India now believe England have a weakness there. They would be looking to probe that again in the third Test at the Rose Bowl.

The Indians are hoping to get a wicket with bounce. "On a wicket with good bounce, our bowlers can be lethal," a member of the team management said. The Indians are confident of "giving it to them at Southampton as well".

All eyes will be on Sharma. The in-form pacer has captured 25 wickets in four Tests this year, his 7-74 at Lord's was his third five-wicket haul in 2014. Putting his height to good use, Ishant has been able to generate disconcerting bounce for the batsmen.

As skipper MS Dhoni revealed, the bowler himself wasn't sure whether to try the length. But now the confidence in his ability to do damage will be higher.

The key will be to use it as a surprise weapon. Also, the success of the short-ball strategy will depend on England's response - whether they keep attacking like they did and perished at Lord's or whether they take a safer option of swaying away from deliveries.

England's next move is keenly awaited. On Friday, their pacers were working on pitching it up and swinging big: following the Bhuvneshwar Kumar model.

The patience shown by the Indian batsmen has clearly affected Anderson & Co's gameplan.

The likes of Vijay and Pujara have taken the game away from England by grafting for runs with their technique of playing with their hands very close to the body. Experts believe England pacers lost the plot on the first morning at Lord's. With so much movement available, it was criminal on the part of Anderson and Broad to pitch short.

In England's first nets since the second Test defeat, Anderson and Broad were bowling in tandem with Plunkett to their top order. Anderson was the most impressive making it move both ways. Broad was aiming for the same, but did not get the same result.

The Lord's result has hit England hard, all eyes are on how they respond.

First Published: Jul 26, 2014 03:05 IST