Game over for Ishant?
44 needed in 18 balls. Adam Voges and James Faulkner at the crease. Most people would agree that India would have easily taken the game home from here. However, they also thought RCB would have defended 43 in 12 in that game vs CSK in IPL 2012. However, the circumstances are a bit different here. For one, MSD had far more trustworthy bowling options than poor Daniel Vettori did, and secondly, James Faulkner is not as renowned as a batsman as Albie Morkel is. So when Ishant Sharma walked in to bowl the 48th with figures of 7-1-33-1, no one protested much. After all, Ishant had responded to his captain’s need back in the Champions Trophy Final during the summer and defended much less against much more dangerous batsmen. However, what came was enough to give some a heart-attack, and made others look like this:
Why when even I popped open my Yahoo Cricket app on my iPod this morning and saw Australia won, I naturally went to investigate more and I saw James Faulkner with a score of 64 in 29. I was upset that we had lost, but not as much as I was befuddled as to how James Faulkner’s batting could have been the instrumental to it. Even more when I found that he had taken Ishant Sharma for 30 runs in an over to pull it off. However, a quick look at some highlights showed me that Ishant had really walked right into Faulkner’s trap. Or rather, fixed it up before falling into it. From the highlights I saw, it could not have been more evident that Faulkner was playing the typical “desperate tailender” game. He was simply slogging at everything, and a yorker, or a delivery that was a tad wider and slower would have done him in. However, like I said, Ishant fixed up the trap before he fell into it. He gave Faulkner a series of pitched-up deliveries, which to the Ozzies was like Gold Dust. Faulkner smashed 4 of them for six in addition one double and a boundary. A real “whoops” moment for poor Ishant.
Alright, end flashback. Back to the here and now. Now that brings us onto what I really wanted to discuss in this post. Is it time up for Ishant Sharma? Of course, one can argue that it was just one of his “bad days”. However, we must also consider that Ishant has an economy of 7.87 this series, with only 2 wickets and a pitiful average of 94.5. Not what you’d expect of the most experienced seamer in the XI. Now the reason he is so disappointing as contrasted to the other two seamers – Vinay Kumar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar – is that they each have a plus and minus. Bhuvi is expensive at death, but is tidy at the front and even though he has only 1 wicket this series, he is the only Indian bowler to keep his economy below 6 in all three games. Vinay has been terribly expensive (he is not known for economical bowling) but did what he did for RCB: picked up wickets. Even if his death bowling hasn’t been as good as it was during IPL 2013, he was the only Indian bowler to pick a wicket in every one of the 3 games. Ishant has been on neither side. Many have jokingly said that his poor shows are “tribute” to Ajit Agarkar, who recently retired from first-class cricket. On the up side, India have plenty of reserves. Jaydev Unadkat – who had a good tour of Zimbabwe and a brilliant IPL, along with Amit Mishra – who used the slow track of the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium to his advantage to outfox batsmen in IPL 2013, and was also India’s best bowler in Zimbabwe. So in the likely event of Ishant getting dropped, India will not miss him too much. As for Ishant himself, hopefully he will use this as a wake-up call and look to work on his lines and lengths so he can hope to make a comeback soon.