A word of caution for all, this is a ‘no-pun-intended‘ post. To all those who possess or once possessed the notion that Ishant Sharma does not have the ability to bowl well, you may be flawless almost all of the times, but there might be certain exceptions. Provided here is a list of five such blasting performances (again, no pun intended) by this 6’3” giant Indian seamer, Ishant Sharma.
#5 – 5/77 against West Indies–
Ishant Sharma’s short length deliveries in a batting friendly pitch coupled with extremely sultry climate against the West Indies churned his form and made him rise an inch higher and steeper in his ‘not so famous’ bowling career. Partnering Praveen Kumar, Sharma proved vital after causing the breakthrough in the Windies’ wall, by pouring out the wickets of Darren Bravo and Carlton Baugh. It was in the much esteemed stadium of Roseau in 2011 that Caribbean people watched this 6’3” tall pacer take the reins in his otherwise long hands. He concluded the last rites of the innings with two incisive but decisive deliveries to hurt the home side miserably. He put an end to the otherwise stable Caribbean innings, tallying with 5/77 out of the Caribbean team’s 204 all out, at the end of the day.
#4 – 6/134 against New Zealand–
It was the first match of the two match Test series held between New Zealand and India in the stadium of Auckland in the year 2014. The Kiwis as usual, started quite tough, but soon decrepitated in front of Ishant Sharma’s splendid cast full of spells. He completed a hard earned five-wicket haul which he achieved by ending the New Zealand wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum’s innings for 224. An uphill task in the innings when an opposition scores 503 is not a cheesy task to follow and the tall pacer thus gave the Indian supporters something to cheer about. It was in the second innings of the match when his three quick wickets at the tail meant New Zealand were bowled out for 105.
#3 – 6/55 against West Indies –
This medium paced bowler of India was at his best when he ripped off the heart of the West Indian batting order at the Kensington Oval stadium in Bridgetown, Barbados in the year 2011. India was 1-0 up in the series, courtesy of the team effort at the last match in Kingston. India perished for a huge setback when they were dismissed for a meagre score of just 190 on the very first day of the Test after being injected to bat. However, the visitors were in no mood to let the Carribean team breathe easy. The pitch was a little eased on the third day as Marlon Samuels and the lower order batting order were inching towards the Indian total gradually and swiftly. But, not to forget the determined Ishant who picked up his 100th Test wicket before the rain break and took only three more deliveries to wrap up the innings to secure a slender lead of 11 runs. His 4/53 in the second innings did manage to briefly threaten the West Indies team in the chase of 281 before bad light stopped play.
#2 – 6/51 against New Zealand –
It was the need of the hour when India badly needed a dazzling gear up in the second Test after losing the very first match of the series from a position of being in strength. Sharma, coming in as the first changed bowler wrecked havocs as he assisted India reduce the Blackcaps to 51/4 by lunch, with him claiming the first three wickets to fall. His first spell read 9-2-14-3 in the shining scorecard of Wellington in 2014. Soon the Delhi seamer captured his fifth prey from a delivery that seamed away after pitching. He added one more to his tally towards the close of the innings to record his then personal best in an innings.
#1 – 7/74 against England –
India were defending a not so huge total of 310 runs in the final innings against England at the ‘Home of Cricket’ (The Lords) in the second Test of the 5-match series in 2014. The memories of 2011 were still fresh and rejuvenated when the dull draw at Trent Bridge added more value to the Test that promised a repercussion. Being the senior-most bowler of the side, Ishant rose to the occasion after a couple of poor outings in the warm-up matches. He cleaned up Ian Bell and induced an outside edge from around the wicket from Alastair Cook’s blade with a beautiful out swinger. A back of a length delivery left the bat after pitching leaving Cook in no man’s land. But it was on the final day that the home side threatened to flee away with the game overnight but two all-steady batsmen Moeen Ali and Joe Root looked at ease in the morning session. The giant seamer produced a perfect bouncer to dismiss Ali off the final ball before Lunch. But the climax was reached when brilliance turned the tables and Indian bowling sector was spearheaded by Sharma, who defied all odds to wrap up the match within 95 runs of his statistics. It was the best spell of Ishant Sharma against England in Lords.