Ishant Sharma reveals tale behind career-turning spell against Ricky Ponting
With the Champions Trophy and the limited overs series against the West Indies done and dusted, the Indian cricket team are set to turn their attention back to the Test format with the upcoming tour to Sri Lanka.
One person who will be looking forward to the tour will be Ishant Sharma, who will have fond memories (as well as a few bitter ones) from their last tour to the island nation, along with another Test specialist in Cheteshwar Pujara.
Both of them made themselves a regular in the longer format of the game after that tour, with Pujara slamming a match-winning century in the second Test and Ishant picking up 8 wickets in the decider to help India clinch the series 2-1.
Ishant has come a long way since his Test debut in 2007 and it was during India’s tour of Australia in 2007/08 that he truly announced his arrival by bowling a devastating spell of fast bowling to the then Australian skipper Ricky Ponting – a spell which ultimately fetched the Australian legend’s wicket.
Sehwag’s role in the wicket
But Ishant might not have got that prized wicket if skipper Anil Kumble had his way. Just before he was about to deliver the over that clinched the wicket, Kumble was about to bring a change in the bowling as he felt that Ishant might have exhausted himself after bowling a superb but lengthy spell.
Luckily for India, Ishant’s Ranji skipper at the time Virender Sehwag, asked Kumble to stick on with Ishant for at least one more over as he knew that the lanky fast bowler was used to bowling long spells.
Recalling that famous moment in the popular cricket chat show “What The Duck”, Ishant said: “I had bowled 8 overs already. So (Anil Kumble) thought that if I get injured, then there won’t be any backup bowler. But Veeru (Sehwag) bhai told him he’s used to bowling, so let him bowl.”
Not only did Sehwag give Kumble the idea to let Ishant bowl, it was the Indian opener’s wise words that ensured he did not try too many variations as a bowler.
“Sehwag said, ‘Don’t try anything new. Just continue what you are doing. No bouncer, no nothing. Just say what you’re saying to him but don’t experiment with your bowling,’” he recalls. And as they, the rest is history.
Ishant on honing his batting skills
While Sehwag might rate Ishant the bowler, he is fond of making jokes about his batting skills claiming that “he can hit 60-yard shots, but all up in the air”.
Ishant did, however, play a crucial role in a partnership with VVS Laxman that helped India clinch a thrilling 1-wicket win over Australia in 2010 at Mohali. The one person that Ishant gives credit for improving his batting skills is then Indian coach Gary Kirsten who forced him to practise batting seriously.
“Gary always pushed me to bat and he used to say that I have the talent to bat,” Ishant said. “Just one day prior to the match, I was tired after my bowling practice and all. But Gary said, ‘I think you should bat.’”
Despite Ishant’s reluctance, Gary was firm in his stance and made Ishant practice hitting tennis ball bouncers with a racket. Even after the whole team had left, Gary decided to have a one-on-one session with Ishant the batsman much to the amusement of the rest of the squad.
But as Ishant would certify, it was those few hours of intense practice that helped India clinch a famous win with Ishant defying the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, and Ben Hilfenhaus and playing a crucial supporting role to Laxman who saw India through.