Anyone who has admired fast bowling will never forget Ishant Sharma's hostile spell against the legendary Ricky Ponting in Perth 2008. A 19-year old guy troubling a batsman with more than 10,000 runs in Test cricket is a rare sight for spectators. He was moving the ball at serious pace and getting the bounce which one expects from a 6 feet 4 inches tall bowler. World cricket knew that India had unearthed a serious fast bowler. But what followed wasn't something that was expected.
After making a grand entry in international cricket, Ishant's form soon started to diminish. He went for plenty of runs in limited overs cricket and wasn't able to support Zaheer Khan who was then the leader of the attack. He was dropped from the team in 2009 after a bad T20 World Cup. His performances weren't consistent because of which selectors never relied on him. He wasn't even considered for 2011 World Cup which India won. Many experts believed that he won't play much for India.
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Injuries to players like Praveen Kumar and Munaf Patel and the retirement of Zaheer Khan took selector's focus back on to Ishant Sharma and this time he didn't disappoint them. In 2014 when India toured England, his fiery spell of short pitched bowling helped India win the Lord's Test comfortably. He was awarded as the man of the match for his figures of 7/74. There was no looking back for the tall bowler after this.
In 2015 when India toured Sri Lanka, his 8 wickets in the deciding Test helped India win the decider of the series. Although the 2016-17 home season wasn't as productive as he would have liked, but he had done enough to justify his place in the team by then.
2018 was always going to be a tough year for India as they had to tour South Africa, England and later Australia. He had great support this time in the form of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami and he didn't disappoint. Not only did he pick wickets consistently but guided both his partners. Although India lost the test series in South Africa and England but the performances of the bowling attack were appreciated by everyone.
His performances have been amazing since then and the 5 wicket haul he picked against New Zealand last week is a testimony of that. With age still on his side, India would hope he continues his purple patch for as long as he can. It has been quite a story of the tall Indian paceman who went from promising rookie to leader of the pack.
Ishant Sharma Test Match Bowling Record as of February 28, 2020
Matches 97 | Wickets 297 | Strike Rate 61.1 | Average 32.4 | 5-wicket hauls 11