Ishant ready to lead blue brigade attack

Delhi bowler to spearhead pace attack in the absence of senior pros as he returns to T20 format after three years.

Bangalore: Flipping it like a discus thrower, Ishant Sharma briefly tried to mock the stance, swirl and bent knees before pulling out the orange tape during the practice session to measure his run-up to the last inch.

It’s interesting how he has returned to the Twenty20 format after three years and 12 days. Ishant last played against Sri Lanka in Mohali in December 2009.

With a tally of 11 T20 Internationals to his name, the Delhi pacer remains the most experienced fast bowler in this present unit and the second most experienced bowler in Team India ranks after the 17-match R Ashwin.

Ishant’s call-up, given that he’s skipped last year’s IPL to repair his wobbly ankle may make his case seem even more surprising and inexplicable, much like Piyush Chawla’s frequent returns.

Quite strikingly all of a sudden, Ishant, who has made guest appearances in ODIs over the last three years and was earmarked only for the longer version, is now holding the ball and leading the attack in all formats.

But it remains to be seen if Ishant’s selection has bigger implications or the selectors are merely addressing immediate requirements.

Ishant is expected to bowl towards the back end, allowing more time and breathing space to the likes of two-match old Parvinder Awana and Ashoke Dinda, still searching for their bearings at the international level.

Even though the Pakistan line-up doesn’t look too intimidating, the sheer inexperience of Indian bowlers would provide them with easy fodder and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni would expect Ishant to stem the rot.

The Indian skipper is mulling a return to the three-pacer, four-bowler combination for the first T20.

Ishant has a well-disguised slower one which should stand him in good stead and for a bowler, who steadfastly refused the option of skipping any one format, he will look to provide an option to the selectors who are on the lookout for bowlers with the World T20 in 2014 and the World Cup Down Under a year later. With a battery of fast bowlers injured, the selectors are short of quantity and quality at the same time resulting in Ishant’s selection.

With Zaheer Khan not finding an easy way back, selectors expect Ishant to have picked up enough nuances and mentoring abilities to guide the young pack. But that seems to have put to risk his workload, given that India is expected to play every third afternoon all the way till January-end.

For the moment, Ishant is happy to don the blue jersey after a long time, and feels confident of making his mark all over again in all formats, and remain injury-free as well.

“It’s just about managing your schedule and workload. I am young and there are many bowlers who have done this juggling before,” he says.

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