India has seen the emergence of a number of fast bowling talents over the past few years but through it all, Ishant Sharma has stood the test of time and remained a mainstay in the bowling line-up, at least in the longest format of the game. After an early breakthrough to the Indian team – which is best remembered for the way he terrorised then-Australia captain Ricky Ponting during the tour Down Under in 2008 – he established himself across formats but recurring injuries resulted in a loss of form and confidence. A spell with Australia legend Jason Gillespie at Sussex restablished him as a force to be reckoned with in Tests.
Should Ishant take to the field for the third Test against England at Ahmedabad, he will become only the second pacer from India to have played 100 tests – Kapil Dev (131 Tests) is the only Indian to be a part of this list so far.
He would also be the 11th cricketer overall from India to have notched up triple figures in Test appearances for his country and also the 12th overall among pacers to have achieved this feat having taken at least 100 wickets in Tests.
This isn’t the only record that Ishant will have notched up in recent times; he became the third Indian pacer after Dev and Zaheer Khan to reach the milestone of 300 Test wickets when he dismissed England’s Dan Lawrence in the second innings on Day 4 of the series opener in Chennai.
His first 79 Test matches yielded 226 wickets and the last 20 fetched him 76 scalps.
Interestingly, Ishant is often not given the same respect as other great Indian fast bowlers – mainly because he took some time to truly establish himself as a consistent performer.
Zaheer Khan is regarded as an all-time fast bowling great from India but it is worth noting that he had a bowling average of 32.94 – Ishant is marginally better at 32.32! Interestingly, Ishant’s average in wins for India of 24.61 is also better than that of Zaheer (25.77).
More often than not fast bowlers get worn out towards the end of their career, especially when their first half has been average at best. But that was not the case with Ishant, who looked to work on his shortcomings when it became clear his career was faltering.
He got better with age and experience and has completely transformed himself into a genuine match-winner for India and a world-class bowler.