Ishant Sharma is earning both plaudits and criticism.
If the bouquets are for his stirring performances with the ball, the brickbats are for the blatant aggression on the field that has not just seen him fined 65% of his match fee but also found him in violation the ICC’s Code of Conduct.
The new-found aggression and maturity (as a fast bowler) has not gone unnoticed.
Dilip “Colonel” Vengsarkar considers the lanky pacer his find.
“He has been bowling at good speeds, hitting the good length often and getting bounce because of his height and action.”
Amit Mishra had this to say about Ishant’s efforts with the ball in the first innings of the second Test.
“The way Ishant bowled with the new ball was important on a slow track. His effort in the heat, that spell set the game up for us.”
TA Sekhar, India fast bowling coach, said:
“Basically, he is bowling a good line and length. There is an increase in speed from what he used to bowl earlier. After starting (his career) by bowling 145 kmph, he reduced in pace. But now he has gained speed and touching 140. He is expect to give breakthroughs in the first spell with the new ball. Ishant has played a lot of Test matches but doesn’t have a great record. He lacks variation like what Zaheer Khan had and this is something that he has to start working on.”
Another former fast bowler, Chetan Sharma, believes that Ishant is a much improved player now.
“Ishant is bowling well. I was in Sri Lanka and I spoke to him for half-an-hour. He sounded a very mature fast bowler. There used to be shy bowlers who used to sneak past their seniors in order to avoid a talk with them, but not Ishant, who comes and speaks to you. And that tells you about his confidence. He understands what he is doing. And, he has the backing of a lot of talented youngsters like Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and (Mohammed) Shami. I don’t think there is a problem in the pace department. If a pacer can pick up 2-3 wickets on the sub-continent tracks, then I believe he has done his job.”
Fellow Delhiite, Ashish Nehra, was slightly back-handed with his compliments.
“I am a big fan of Umesh Yadav — talentwise even though he has not fulfilled his true potential as to what he should have achieved by now. He is somewhat similar to me but my case was more to do with injuries. Varun (Aaron) and Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) are also talented.
But Ishant Sharma, who has played 60 Test matches (62) is the least talented among them but one of the most hardworking guys around.
If Ishant has played so much and for so long, it is a testimony that talent alone can’t be the recipe for success. Talent can only take you till certain point but is nothing without hard work.”
If Nehra is right in that Ishant is the least talented among the current crop of pace men, then Indian cricket is blessed indeed.
Nehra spoke at length about Sharma.
Asked about his higher-than-normal strike rate, Nehra said:
“Look, there is a perception about Ishant. I agree his strike-rate is on the higher side but in last one year, he has taken five-fors in New Zealand and England. So he is improving. Don’t forget, he is only 27 and has already played 62 Tests because he started at 18. We should not put undue pressure on him and start saying ‘drop Ishant Sharma and get someone new’. What will happen if he is dropped? Nothing will happen. BCCI should just ensure that a fast bowler is given enough time and confidence to settle down. Dropping a bowler after one bad series can’t be a solution. A new fast bowler would take at least two series to just settle down.”
The Delhi bowler believes that fast bowlers do better when they enjoy the confidence of their skippers.
“Look the bottom line is, if you are bowling well, then you need nobody for help. But there will be times when even if you keep a deep point, the batsman will still hammer you. Then you have no option but to listen to your captain and bowl as per the field set by him. Michael Clarke was a great captain till last Ashes and today Alastair Cook has suddenly become a great captain. If you look at history of fast bowler-captain relationships — for example Sunil Gavaskar-Kapil Dev or Mohammed Azharuddin-Javagal Srinath, that has always been the case. When the going is good, nothing matters. Everything comes out when the performance level dips.”
Sharma seems to have no such problems on this score with his current leader, Virat Kohli.
Scribes might have expected some censure from India’s fire-brand captain given that Sharma will now miss the first home Test against South Africa for his aggressive send-offs in the third Test and the war of words with opposition players.
Kohli, however, was unperturbed.
“I was very happy with the incident (argument with Prasad) when he was batting. It happened at the right time for us because we had to bowl on Monday and they made him angry. It could not have happened at a better time for us And the way he (Ishant) bowled in the second innings, he didn’t concede a boundary for 19 overs. That’s the kind of pressure he created on those batsmen because of one incident. He bowled his heart out like he has always done when the Indian team has needed to defend scores in Test matches.An angry fast bowler is a captain’s delight. I was really happy to see what happened yesterday and it switched some things on in the right ways. It had to be controlled but in the end it benefitted us.”
The spring in the step is back and very much evident. After two hard-fought series in England and Australia where the Indians came off second-best, they appeared a much more hardy bunch in Sri Lanka. The score-line could very well have read 3-0 instead of 2-1 if the Indians had plugged away as they did in the last two Tests. It is a team sport and moments of personal brilliance and stellar performances can at most win you a Test or two. It takes consistent togetherness and toughness to pull through a gruelling series.
South Africa at home will be the real Test. Can Team India do an encore?
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is an ass.
An ass who has won Team India two World Cups and a Champions Trophy but an ass nevertheless.
Nothing else can explain why the famed leader of men in colored clothing would castigate his fast bowlers for straying while bowling quick in ODIs.
The wise men of Indian cricket were quick to follow his lead and have relegated Umesh Yadav to the India A squad.
Sir Andy Roberts rushed to Yadav’s defense.
Trust a fast bowler to understand another.
“Look at Australia, Mitchell Johnson was nowhere in the last five years, but he went back, worked hard, strengthened his body and used his pace. Johnson wasn’t about line and length, he was all about pace and that’s what got Australia back to the forefront. Pace!
Yadav is India’s genuine fast bowler and I don’t like this idea of you telling your fast bowlers you must bowl line and length, you don’t sacrifice pace for length and control, all one needs to do is work hard in the nets to better his control.
Well that’s selectors for you (on Yadav’s demotion)
He (Yadav) has the pace and not too many fast bowlers have pace. You don’t just make fast bowlers. You have to be born with it.”
Yadav, however, has no intention of slowing down.
“As a genuine fast bowler, the margin of error is very less for us. It’s not easy for a fast bowler to bowl consistently in one area. It’s easier for a medium pacer to maintain line length at 130-135 km/hr. Many times boundaries go because of the pace at which I bowl. At times, I try different things and when that doesn’t work, it costs me a few runs. Everyone is different. I can’t bowl like Mustafizur Rahman and he can’t bowl like me. My release point is different from that of a medium pacer’s, If I change that, I will mess up with my bowling. I am in this team because of my pace. I have taken wickets at the international level with pace.”
On the Bangladesh defeat:
“It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reason for the defeat. We were playing continuously for the last 8-10 months so may be fatigue was an issue. Obviously we could have done a lot better. Having said that, Bangladesh played some good aggressive cricket. The pressure was definitely on us. They had nothing to lose. Mustafizur bowled well in the first two matches. We had never seen him before – how he uses the slow ball, how he uses those cutters. After the first two matches we got to know about his strengths and played him well in the last match. Unfortunately, the series was over by then.”
On the India A selection:
“Yes, I would have a bit of rest as I am playing continuous cricket for last eight months. However, the selectors feel I need to bowl before the Sri Lanka series. They must have thought something about me and Varun (Aaron). May be they thought we must have match practice before the Sri Lanka series. So I am prepared for that. I will try to utilize this short break to refresh myself and then be ready for the India ‘A’ assignment.”
On India’s World Cup campaign:
“When I started my cricket, I had a dream to be part of a World Cup team. I wasn’t a regular in the team before the West Indies and Sri Lanka series. However, I had that confidence and attitude that I could be part of the team. When I got the chance for West Indies series, I grabbed it with both hands and showed what I can do for the team. Only thing in my mind was to contribute in winning causes. I am glad I did that whenever the captain threw the ball to me.
We were bit tired during the triangular series after the long Test series. So we didn’t perform as well as we would’ve liked. But yes, it gave us a good opportunity to assess ourselves and what we needed to do in the World Cup. For instance, mid-wicket and deep square-legboundaries were quite long in Australia and it wasn’t easy to clear them if you hurry the batsmen and use short deliveries properly. We did exactly that. Before the tournament, nobody expected the Indian bowlers to perform that well but we knew what we were capable of. To bounce out the opposition was brilliant.”
It would have been so much nicer and smarter if MSD would have a chat with his fast bowlers on these lines instead:
“Guys, I know you cannot be accurate always and may go for runs. But what I want from my pacers are wickets and wickets quickly and at crucial junctures. If you can give me the breakthroughs and an average of 2-3 wickets per game, I will be mighty satisfied. After all, bowlers (and catches) win matches.”
That, my friends, is the way to go.
What went wrong with a team that came into the semi-finals undefeated, winning seven straight games in a row?
What can explain the abject display of this Indian side once they came up against their bete-noire of the last five months? Was it another case of déjà vu?
First, the Australians scored 30-50 runs more than our batters could easily achieve. A score of around 280 was chaseable against their strong bowling attack. Once the Aussies went past the psychological barrier of 300, it was an uphill struggle. Dhoni missed a trick by not letting Umesh Yadav bowl the last over. He was the only one who looked like getting wickets in his final spell and a couple of wickets more could have restricted the Aussies to a less substantial total.
The loss of Shikhar Dhawan began the slide. The left-handed opener was looking good for yet another ton but threw it away in a moment of casual lassitude. Rohit Sharma has scored runs but all of his big scores have come against the lesser sides. The Mumbaikar once again failed to step up to the plate when it mattered. How different is this Sharma from the one who made his debut in 2007-08? Have the years left their scars?
Virat Kohli disappointed. And much as Dhoni tomtoms Ravindra Jadeja’s abilities with the bat, the ‘all-rounder’ has no business being in the side if he cannot average at least a decent 30—both at home and away. Sure, he has three triple centuries in domestic cricket but if that’s the reason he’s in the side, then he should be batting further up the order, not with the tail.
The Indians were probably looking at chasing 328 in chunks. A score of 100 in 20 overs, 200 in 35 and 260 in 40 (power play) would have left them chasing less than 70 in the final 10 overs. It was not to be.
Dhoni’s unwillingness to experiment against the minnows meant that the Indians went up against the Aussies with a closed mindset. What works all the time will fail some day. What then?
Indian fans have a lot to cheer about. At the outset, no one expected this side to travel this far. Winning the trophy would have had their cup of joy overflowing but it would not be a true reflection of the capabilities and form of this side.
Overall, a fair result.
What he said (via Espn Cricinfo):
“They (the Australians) are better at playing mind games than they are at playing the game.”
India pace spearhead Ishant Sharma has sensible words of advice for Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav for the upcoming tour of Australia.
Speaking to Mail Today, the lanky fast bowler expressed satisfaction with his performances this year. Sharma missed out on Team India’s ODI World Cup party.
It has been a very good year for me. I am happy with my rhythm and pace. Even though I didn’t get wickets on some occasions, I am pleased with the way I have bowled this year.But the learning process never stops. Even someone like Sachin Tendulkar says he is still learning about the game after 22 years. So I am always learning to improve. For me, every day is a new day.
Sharma will lead the inexperienced Indian attack if Zaheer Khan does not fully recover from his ankle injury.
Obviously, having Zaheer would be a huge bonus. But if he is not there, it would be an honour to lead the attack in Australia. It would be a great responsibility. Every fast bowler dreams of leading the attack for the country.Australia is going to be very exciting. But the key would be not to put pressure on yourself. If you keep thinking about results and wickets, it would only add to the pressure. So I would look to just enjoy myself. This time in Australia, patience will be the key.The thing is that Australian batsmen don’t like to be tied down and if you bowl patiently at them, you can pick wickets. So bowling tightly would be the best strategy.
Sharma looks forward to bowling in tandem with pace prospects, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron.
Bowling with Umesh and Varun is quite exciting. They have the pace and the best thing is they are willing to learn. The more they bowl, they more will learn to exploit the conditions.
What he really meant:
“Cricket’s played more in the mind than anything else and ,boy, don’t the Aussies know it.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“Sledge me if you can.”
What he said (via Times Of India):
“Whatever you tell No. 10 or No. 11, they always do what they want to do.”
Virender Sehwag is one relieved skipper.
Batting minnows, Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav, knocked off the required 11 runs to secure victory in the first ODI against West Indies at Barabati Stadium, Cuttack.
Prior to the ODI series, the third Test match between the two sides ended in a thrilling draw with the scores tied. Then too, it was left to the tailenders to complete the job.
I was sitting in the same place and not moving! It’s good to win another nail-biter. Whatever you tell No. 10 or No. 11, they always do what they want to do. I just told them to play till the end and whatever happens is fine. Rohit and Jadeja batted really well in that partnership and we should have won it easily from there, but still good to end up winning. We hope to learn from our batting mistakes in the coming games.
Darren Sammy was the disappointed captain—again.
Everytime you lose it is quite disappointing. We just didn’t have the last spark to take us past the finish line. The opening bowlers did well to give us a start and we fought all the way to the end, but it wasn’t enough. We could have done things differently, we even bowled 23 extras, but I would like to commend the boys. They fought with never-say-die spirit and it is going to stick.
What he really meant:
“When tailenders bat, they do what they want to and don’t want to, too.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“Isn’t cricket a game of glorious uncertainties? So what if I’m missing fingernails?”
The English came, saw and were conquered.
The freshly crowned No.1 Test team were all at sea when it came to negotiating the sub-continent’s slow turners.
A 5-0 trashing might satisfy MS Dhoni and his young brigade ;the true test is to come when Team India tour Australia at the end of the year.
The Indians looked sharp in the field owing to young legs in the side.
A consolation T20 win for Graeme Swann, no little thanks to a belligerent knock by the man he termed not captaincy material in his autobiography, “The Breaks Are Off”—Kevin Pietersen.
The hoi polloi were not impressed; the stands were less than full for the games.
A surfeit of cricket coupled with the dismal surrender in England implies that fans cannot be taken for a ride—surely not all the time.
The squad picked for the first Test in the return series against West Indies at home has three express bowlers, each capable of bowling at 140+ kmph.
Does this mark the dawn of a new era?
Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron are chomping at the bit to have a go and make their mark on the selectors before the crucial tour Down Under.
Harbhajan Singh,however, has been sternly castigated by Krishnamachari Srikkanth and his merry men; he remains out of favour.
Rahul Sharma, Ravindra Ashwin and Praghyan Ojha are the twirlers chosen by the wise men of Indian cricket.
Virender Sehwag returns, Ajinkya Rahane is rewarded for his fine displays and Yuvraj Singh makes it back to the Test side and ‘Grade A’.
Virat Kohli has yet another chance to prove his credentials in the longer format of the game—should he play.
Kohli and Ishant Sharma have moved up in the Indian cricketing world—rewarded with Grade A contracts.
Ashish Nehra is the surprising omission from the list of contracted players. Why is he being punished?
The first Test match is scheduled for November 6, 2011 in Delhi at the Ferozeshah Kotla.
Two spinners and two pace bowlers are par for the course on sub-continent wickets.
Will Dhoni risk a Sehwag without adequate match practice? A similar move did not quite work wonders in English conditions. But then this is home advantage and the Kotla is the Nawab’s home ground.
Can Dhoni leave him out?
The second pace bowler’s spot is a toss-up between Yadav and Aaron—Dhoni’s call.
Rahul Sharma is the least experienced amongst the trundlers. Safe to say, he will not play.
The squad picks itself:
M S Dhoni (capt & wk), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag (Ajinkya Rahane), Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, R Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav (or Varun Aaron).