While the Indian cricket team might be happy to have Ishant Sharma back in their ranks ahead of the five-match Test series which begins against England at Rajkot on Wednesday, India’s legendary all-rounder Kapil Dev feels that the lanky speedster lacks the necessary discipline to become a consistent wicket-taker in the longer format of the game.
Sharma had been ruled out of the Test series against New Zealand which the hosts won convincingly 3-0 due to chikungunya but has recovered in time for the series opener against Alastair Cook’s side. While there is no doubt that Ishant has matured as a bowler with time, as seen with his role in the away series victory against Sri Lanka in 2015, the 1983-World Cup winning skipper feels that Ishant lacks in certain areas which are crucial for someone leading the pace attack.
"I think Ishant is a very good bowler. He is a genuine quick bowler with great height. But he has to develop the wicket-taking ball, that ability to take wickets at crucial times. Perhaps that's where he is lacking. There is no shortage of ability and talent but somewhere the talent to take wickets is missing," he said.
A look at Ishant’s numbers in the Test format proves that Kapil’s words hold good value. He has picked up 209 wickets in 66 matches at an average of 36.71 and strike rate of 66.6 – not impressive numbers by any stretch of the imagination.
The spin-friendly pitches in India has played its part in it no doubt, but Kapil, who once held the record for the highest number of wickets in Test cricket despite playing a number of matches on batsman-friendly pitches, said that a lot of improvement is needed in Ishant’s game.
Kapil also lamented the inconsistent bowling that has often plagued Ishant at times, especially in the shorter formats of the game and said that the 28-year-old has failed to do justice to his abilities.
"One needs to bowl better, consistently bowl a better line and length. It's not about bowling two very good deliveries in an over but you have to bowl five good balls. Then only you can pick up more wickets."
Ishant is expected to feature in the starting eleven for the first Test against England as India look to continue their fine run at home and extend their stay at the top of the team rankings.