The tall frame of Ishant Sharma could not be missed as the Indian team engaged in a game of football at the HPCA Stadium here. Also in the limelight were the athletic Ashoke Dinda, and the tireless Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shami Ahmed.
Change is the only constant in the Indian cricket team. Ishant would know that as he suddenly finds himself a part of a new pace pack.
There is no Zaheer Khan to mentor him as the left- arm pacer is on his last legs. As someone who has been groomed to take over the mantle from Zaheer, Ishant still has some way to go before he can be truly called the leader the attack.
Though he has made impressive strides towards that in the ODI series against Pakistan and England, consistency is one area where he would want focus.
In the last game in Mohali, Ishant was his best as he bowled with pace and rhythm, touching the 140kmph mark.
Kevin Pietersen was all at sea against him in Ishant’s first spell.
It has not been easy for Ishant since coming back from ankle surgery. “ He has taken time to find his usual pace.
But he has regained that in Mohali. He generated good pace and moved the ball.
When he does that, he will trouble batsmen,” said former player Navjot Singh Sidhu. In the three- match ODI series against Pakistan, Ishant took seven wickets at an economy of 3.71. Against England, he went for runs in the first ODI, but came back well in the last two matches.
He has bowled really well in this series. In the first 6- 7 overs, he has troubled the batsmen. Even though he has gone for runs in the last few overs, am happy with his performance, he is good fielder and is bowling those fivesix overs really well for us as first change with the semi new ball,” skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said after the Mohali match.
Ishant’s coach Shravan Kumar felt he has shown a mature head since coming back from injury. “ It takes some time to hit the right line and length,” Kumar told MAIL TODAY . “ He has more confidence in his ability. International cricket is tough and as a bowler you have to come up with new things to tackle the batsmen. He has been working on his outswingers also.” If anything, Kumar wants him to ball from closer to the stumps.
I would like to see him bowl from a bit closer to the wicket. It is easier to play the angled ball. But these things come with experience and maturity.” With his experience, Ishant would like to lead the attack by example.
Bhuvneshwar and Shami have impressed one and all, though these are still early days for them. With Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron nursing injuries, India would have a few options to pick from in the coming days.
Ishant needs to take this opportunity with both hands, for nothing is certain in Indian cricket.