2018: The summer of Ishant Sharma

India has come up short in yet another series overseas, they are trailing 1-3 and, in all probability, will end up losing 1-4 as England are working towards a match winning lead in the 2nd innings at The Oval.

However, one heartening thing for captain Virat Kohli must be the performance of his fast bowlers. Ishant Shamra, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami have all bowled impressively this series and must give a lot of confidence to the Team management ahead of the Australian tour.

The leading wicket taker among the three has been the veteran Ishant, who crossed 250 Test wickets during the course of the series, and is 1 wicket away from the best ever performance by an Indian bowler on an England tour. That record is currently held by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, sidelined from this series due to an injury.

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When Ishant was bowling at Ricky Ponting all those years ago in Perth, he got everyone in India excited about the prospects of having a genuine fast bowler playing for India. Anyone who was watching him bowl that day, will fondly recall everything about that spell, including the ball that eventually did get Ponting. However, things haven’t gone as well as he might have hoped, even though at 256 test wickets, he is currently the 7th most successful bowler ever for India.

Over the years, ‘unlucky Ishant’ has been heard a bit too often while talking about the lanky fast bowler. Either his balls were a touch too short, missing the edge on the way to the keeper, or the ball swung too much when he bowled an inswinger to trap the batsman LBW, but not during this tour of England.

His county stint ahead of the Test series, where he worked under Jason Gillespie for Sussex, seems to have done a world of good for him. His length has been fuller, he has found the edge, some of those edges have even been taken, he has picked up wickets and has bowled as well as he has ever bowled, just ask Alastair Cook.

After not being part of the side for India’s first Test match this year at Centurion, he has come back to pick 30 wickets at an average of 21 so far, his best average in any calendar year by a distance, he never averaged below 30 in any year before this. His bowling average has fallen below 35 for the first time since 2010 and he has firmly become the leader of this pace attack.

Of course, in Kohli-Shastri era, nobody’s place is safe in the side, with Kohli being the only player to play in all the Test matches this year (even Pandya eventually got dropped), but after this summer in England, Ishant surely has done enough to become one of the first names on the team sheet right now.


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