But nearly twentyfour rollercoaster months later, Ishant was just an onlooker for most part of a bright Friday evening when he should have been leading the session with some sprightly spells. Indeed, he bowled a few balls to Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh, but the fire wasn’t there.
Sreesanth was clearly the better bowler on the day, often hurrying Yuvraj and Rahul Dravid with considerable pace while Ishant never looked a part of the proceedings.
Strangely, it brought the memories of a different day that now seems separated by a disappointing lifetime. Let’s revisit that eventful day of January 19, 2008, at Perth. On that day, Ricky Ponting, a modern day titan, was as much at ease as a tramp in a glittering mansion, playing and missing often before finally succumbing to the pace and movement of the Indian bowler.
He played that Test only because of injuries to Sreesanth and Munaf Patel but he grabbed the chance and the day promised a lot from him in the future; the next Courtney Walsh many imagined.
Prior to that extraordinary spell at WACA, Ishant had showcased his skills against Pakistan at Bangalore with a five-wicket haul. The performance embodied all that made Ishant an awkward bowler to face -- pace, bounce and movement. So, it seemed just a matter of time Ishant terrified batsmen world around with his exceptional abilities, or everyone thought so after a brilliant year.
But 2009 was not kind to him at all. There was a considerable dwindling in his performance, first in one-dayers and then later it spread to Tests as well. The red-hot pace was largely missing, the disconcerting bounce was mostly absent as he struggled for right line and length.
Consequently, his economy rate in one-dayers, which read 5.34 in 2008, shot up to 6.14 in 2009 while taking 22 wickets from 15 matches. His economy rate is also the worst among regular bowlers worldwide with England’s Stuart Broad coming second with 5.73.
Agreed he has taken wickets, but Ishant’s inability to check runs at any stage of the game was more alarming.
In the year gone by, Ishant had an economy rate of 5.89 in the first 20 overs, 6.56 in the middle-overs and touched 6.49 in the final 10 overs, a clear indication of his consistent struggle in the 50-over format.
It was a far cry from his performance in the 2008 season where he became the first Indian bowler to clock 150 kmph while topping the wicket-taking chart in the Commonwealth Bank tri-series.
His bowling in Tests too lost its direction last year, picking up just 10 wickets from four Tests, but his display against New Zealand was disappointing. Eight wickets from three Tests was less than impressive for the team’s brightest hope and his bowling average, 41.75, too was not up to the mark. Ishant did not do anything of significance in the first Test against Sri Lanka at Ahmedabad, taking two wickets in a run-drenched match before making way for Sreesanth. But the team management has faith in Ishant, keeping him with the team and they have pinned their hopes on newly-appointed bowling coach Eric Simmons to take the youngster’s career back on track.
As the Indian net session drew to a close at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury stadium, Ishant managed to find a bit of pace and bounce. Sign of good things to come?
DH News Service