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Spotlight on Ishant Sharma in India Blue vs India Red in Duleep Trophy final

Ishant Sharma last played a Test in March, against Australia at Ranchi. He was instructed to play in the Duleep Trophy for Suresh Rain-led India Blue

cricket Updated: Sep 24, 2017 20:26 IST
Sharad Deep
Sharad Deep
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Ishant Sharma,Duleep Trophy,India Blue vs India Red
Ishant Sharma will play for India Blue in the Duleep Trophy finals against India Red.(REUTERS)

Seamer Ishant Sharma was the first one to take a close look at the 22-yard red-clay strip at the Ekana International Cricket Stadium on Sunday evening as soon as the covers were removed. He not only exchanged a few words with the groundsmen, but also felt the hardness of the pitch.

Immediately after this, he got busy bowling with the pink ball at the practice pitch adjacent to the main wicket. After sending down a few stock deliveries, Ishant bowled bouncers at the batsmen who struggled to fend them off.

Ishant last played a Test in March, against Australia at Ranchi. For the last six months, he has not played represented India in any format.

READ | Ishant Sharma rushes to play Duleep Trophy on selectors’ instructions

After being instructed to play the Duleep Trophy match in Kanpur last week for the Suresh Raina-led India Blue against India Green, Ishant could bowl just seven overs (taking a wicket) as rain washed out the match.

So it would be an opportunity for the newly-appointed captain of the Delhi Ranji Trophy side, when he takes the field for India Blue against India Red in the five-day Duleep Trophy final, starting here on Monday.

“It’s an important game for everyone including Ishant,” India Blue skipper Suresh Raina said on Sunday. “Certainly, we couldn’t get match practice due to rain in the last two matches. But we are a balanced side. The presence of Ishant and Pankaj Singh in the side is a big boost to our confidence.”

READ | In India, you’re deemed a misfit after failing in just one series; that’s the worst part: Ishant Sharma

He, however, admitted that five-day cricket demands character, strength and courage as patience remains the key to success. “For me, getting a good start ahead of the domestic season is quite important and I am happy that I am in good nick with the willow. I hope my bat continues to do the talking here too.”

Refusing to get ‘under pressure’ by the recent reports on his fitness, Raina said, “I’m here and you can see how fit I am. I am working hard on all aspects of my cricket life, including fitness.”

Rival skipper Dinesh Karthik claimed that even after losing a number of key players, his side India Red had enough good players. “Many of our players have joined the India A side playing New Zealand A, but it makes no difference to us as we have good young players, who are capable of taking up the challenge,” he said before adding, “It’s a good opportunity for youngsters to show their class on a bigger platform. It’s a tournament of top 40 cricketers of India and I find everyone good enough.”

SQUADS

India Blue: Suresh Raina (captain), Samit Gohel, Abhimanyu Easwaran, KS Bharat, Manoj Tiwari, Deepak Hooda, Ishaan Kishan (wk), Akshay Wakhare, Bharghav Bhat, Ishant Sharma, Pankaj Rao, Jaydev Unadkat, Sagun Kamat and Pankaj Singh.

India Red: Dinesh Karthik (captain), Prithvi Shaw, Akhil Herwadkar, Ishank Jaggi, Rahul Singh, Baba Indrajith, Surya Kumar Yadav,Washington Sundar, Vijay Gohel, Basil Thampi, CV Milind, Ashok Dinda, Siddharth Kaul.

First Published: Sep 24, 2017 19:58 IST