Ishant Sharma, a tall and lanky fast bowler, first burst onto the scene in the year 2008. He came to the fore by his fiery spell to Ricky Ponting in the Perth Test when he dismissed the Australia captain after a handful of unplayable deliveries. Pretty soon, the whole country was talking about him. India, not having a rich vein of history in the pace department, was excited by the arrival of a pacer who could ball fast and hit the deck hard.
He became a regular in the Indian outfit. But clearly, white ball cricket was never his forte. Even though he played a good amount of cricket in colored clothing for the national side, he wasn’t consistent. These days, he is a Test specialist and hasn’t played an ODI since 2016.
James Faulkner haunted Ishant Sharma
However, there was one incident that haunted him and changed his career. It was the year 2013 when Australia was touring India for an ODI series. The series was tied at 1-1 and the PCA Stadium, Mohali hosted the 3rd ODI. Indian skipper MS Dhoni slammed a magnificent 139 that propelled the team to 303/9 batting first.
India had Australia on the mat as the visitors were reduced to 213/6. Adam Voges and James Faulkner came together and stitched a partnership that kept the Aussies in the game. Australia needed 44 from the last 3 overs as India still had a firm grasp on the match.
Dhoni threw the ball to Ishant Sharma to bowl the 48th over. Faulkner took a full toll and slammed 30 runs from the over with 4 sixes and a boundary. The equation reduced to 14 from 12 balls as Australia cruised to victory. Ishant Sharma was left stranded as he received flak from all over the country.
He was termed as the villain and his place in the side was questioned. Recently, the pacer revealed that he had cried for 15 days after the infamous over. His wife Pratima Singh, whom he was dating in 2013, advised Ishant not to take the game too seriously as she had never seen him cry before.
“I didn’t cry for just one day, I cried for 15 days at least,” Ishant told The Indian Express. Having lost the game for the country, he broke down. “I have always been hard on myself, I am not someone who just pushes things under the carpet. I lost a game for India.”
“Never ever had I even seen his eyes getting moist. And here he was crying, I can never imagine Ishant crying. I told him point blank, cricket is not everything. Bahut badi zindagi hai. Cricket ko sar pe chadha ke nahin rakha karo. (Life is long, don’t give cricket undue importance),” said Ishant’s wife.
From an ODI misfit to the leader of the Test attack
That was one incident that changed the fast bowler’s career. His good friend Rajeev Mahajan told, “He was depressed, so was his family. I told him very clearly, you haven’t worked hard.” Since then, there was a change in the Delhi-lad and he became even more focussed.
Before that game, he had played 68 ODIs and bagged 96 wickets. Since that game, he featured in just 12 ODIs for India. But the major change happened in the longest format of the game. Before October 2013, Ishant Sharma had played 51 Tests in which he took 144 wickets at an average of 37.99. But since that change, he has claimed 123 wickets in 39 Tests at 29.95.
Ishant is now a veteran in the Test side and acts as the leader of the pace attack. He is a reliable bowler and one of the premier pacers in the world. He is a part of the fearsome pace line-up that India possesses now which consists of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar as well.
The County Ground, Taunton
The Rose Bowl, Southampton
County Ground, Chelmsford
The County Ground, Hove
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