Ishant Sharma picked up 5-51 to restrict England to 180 in the Birmingham Test
Fast bowler Ishant Sharma had a lot of responsibility on his shoulders coming into the first Test in Birmingham against England.
Virat Kohli’s men entered the first Test without their premier fast bowlers – Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. That meant the Delhi pacer had to make up for their absence and lead the Indian attack.
He did that in fine fashion on Friday, picking up 5-51 to bring India right back into the Test and give the visitors great shot at victory.
Here we analyse the performance of Ishant in the second innings on Friday.
RUNS CONCEDED: 51
Ishant was at his absolute best on Friday. Getting the ball to move a long way after pitching, Ishant made England batsmen play at the deliveries and his bowling from around the wicket was especially effective. The 29-year-old took four wickets either side of lunch and finished with a five-for which set up the match nicely. He generally comes up with one brilliant spell every Test and luckily for India, it came at a critical juncture.
His angles. Ishant was getting the ball to move considerably after pitching and he used different angles to the left-handed Dawid Malan and Ben Stokes. The acute change was directed at the stumps, which meant both batsmen had to play at it but could only manage an edge.
He got Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler with late away moving deliveries bowled from slightly wide of the crease. A masterclass in control and execution.
Started to lose his line once Sam Curran and Adil Rashid showed some defiance and went after the ball with hard hands. Ishant should have stuck to his original plan of bowling at the six stump as there was enough help on offer and the lower-order batsmen might have nicked the ball sooner rather than later. After reducing England to 87-7, he should have finished things off in that spell.
VERDICT: 8 out of 10
One of the finest efforts from Ishant when the team needed it the most. Had England’s top-order taken the score past 100, India would have been batted out of the Test by the second session on Friday. Thirteen overs of high quality seam and pace bowling from the leader of the pack. Showed he is capable of carrying the burden in the absence of star pacers.
INDIA’S SLIP CATCHING
It’s one thing to get the edges, another to hold on to the catches. Just ask Dawid Malan who grassed chances in both innings. During Ishant’s spell either side of lunch, India held on to some tough chances. Ajinkya Rahane held onto a fine opportunity off Malan at gully while Virat Kohli held on a fine chance off Stokes. India’s slip catching faltered later in the innings, which showed how important slip fielders are in such conditions.
Ishant has the tendency to bowl no-balls, given his tall frame. He did bowl a no-ball in the second innings. But more importantly, it was his dismissal of Jos Buttler that almost wasn’t as he just about managed to get some part of his foot behind the line. No other Indian bowler bowled a no ball in the second innings and had Buttler’s dismissal been reversed, it could have proven costly.