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Branded offbeat after failing in a few games is the flip side of Indian cricket, says Ishant Sharma

Ishant Sharma got a chance to play in IPL 2017 after a late call-up by Kings XI Punjab but failed to inspire with the ball.

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Ishant Sharma in action for the India team

What’s the story?

Ishant Sharma has had a shaky and a flimsy IPL 2017. He has been in the harsh spotlight of criticism even before the tournament commenced. The 28-year-old Indian pacer feels players are given tags considering a matter on a superficial level.

“In an earlier interview, I had said that I haven’t done well in T20s. It was interpreted in a wrong way. It doesn’t mean that I should be stamped with the tag that I want to play only Tests and not other formats. This is the worst thing in India; if you play badly in two-three matches or a series, you are thought to be fit for only one format,” Ishant said, in an interview with the press.

In case you didn’t know...

Ishant was not picked by any team in the IPL 2017 auctions earlier this year. It was only later that the Kings XI Punjab drafted him in their squad that saw him feature in this year’s edition.

The senior Indian pacer hasn’t been a part of the ODI team for over a year now and last played an international T20 game in 2013.

The heart of the matter

In the IPL, his economic show in matches against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians was eclipsed by his wicketless spells in the other games he played. He acknowledges the fact that he hasn’t had a very compelling and promising run in the shorter formats of the game but feels that he has been criticised harshly.

When asked about his role in the Kings XI Punjab team, he opined that being the senior bowler and having more international experience has seen him shoulder more responsibility. Ishant feels that the bowlers are at a disadvantage in the shortest format of the game as the boundaries are small along with the flat wickets and all this just adds to his misery.

Ishant added that in the T20 format, a bowler must keep backing his strengths and focus on it as invariably, any bowler is bound to go for runs and shouldn’t worry too much about what the batsmen are going to do. 

When asked if he has tried adding new aspects to his bowling in the IPL, Ishant replied saying there is not much time in the IPL to develop and imply new skills but draws out new plans for every game with the help of the modern tech and video analysis which provides them vital information about stock deliveries and tries to improvise spontaneously.

What’s next?

India will travel to England for the ICC Champions Trophy without Ishant Sharma. His take on India’s fast bowling attack comprising of Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the upcoming tournament to be held in England and Wales is that they are all good athletes and are always up for the job. More importantly, they are high on confidence and are experienced as well.

Author’s take

No doubt the IPL and the T20 format, in general, is harsh on the bowlers with the powerplay and boundaries being smaller, but stating that as a reason for one not coming up to scratch is absurd.

Ishant being ‘test material’ may not be completely accurate or fair on his behalf, but it isn’t wide of the mark when we say that he hasn’t grabbed his opportunities and has not been up to the mark in more than a few matches. He surely has more to give but needs to rise to the occasion when an opportunity presents itself to support what he believes.

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