IPL snub a blessing in disguise for Ishant

Paceman claims a five-for before England bowlers put hosts back in charge

Ishant Sharma. Reuters photo.

Playing in the highly lucrative Indian Premier League can be a life-changing experience. An example is Hardik Pandya from the current Indian Test team, who was first noticed in the popular league. For the ones missing out, it’s a hard grind.

Veteran pacer Ishant Sharma initially felt disheartened at not being picked by any of the eight franchises. As his India pace mates joined IPL teams, he was left with no option but to ink a deal with Sussex to play for the county. The major reasoning behind that move was to help him prepare for the arduous five-Test tour of England. It was also to help him get acclimatised to the Dukes ball.

The paceman's efforts helped India to get an attainable target of 194 for victory in the opening Test. However, England left the tourists' hanging hopes in the balance after reducing them to 110/5 on a day when 16 wickets fell.

Ishant made his hard work count with a splendid performance in the second innings of the first Test against England where he grabbed 5/51 at Edgbaston. The probing spell before lunch showed that when he’s on song, there are very few batsmen who can escape his damage. He dismissed Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes before lunch and then accounted for Jos Buttler just after resumption. All four of those wickets were the results of top-class bowling. He completed his eighth five-wicket haul when he dismissed Stuart Broad.

The 29-year-old admitted that not playing in the IPL had hurt him but he then used that blow as a blessing in disguise. “County Championship made a huge difference (to me). In a way, I was also disappointed (on missing out of IPL) but it was good for me. I really enjoyed (playing County cricket). I played for Sussex and bowled with the Dukes ball. One good thing was I played only four matches but there were overs behind me. I bowled around 200-250 overs (he bowled 114.3 overs in first-class games alone). I played one-dayers also, so the experience was really good.”

Ishant feels that he works hard but since he doesn’t have too many marks in the wickets columns, he sometimes doesn’t get the respect he deserves. “Actually, I got tired of the tag (defensive bowler) despite bowling well. I am bowling well but my wickets’ column has always not been very good. It feels very good (to get a five-wicket haul) because I put in a lot of work. Playing for your country and taking five wickets, that too in the second innings, is something great.

“I don’t know where this label thing comes from. I don’t think about all these things, I just go with my gut feeling and the situation of the game. At times, you have to bowl defensively and at times, you have to bowl attacking lines. It all depends on the situation and how you adapt to it. My focus has been to take wickets, carry the tag of being a good bowler.”

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IPL snub a blessing in disguise for Ishant

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