London: Ishant Sharma is so spasmodic that before each Test match, session or even a spell, the world is still unclear what the gangly lad from Delhi might dish out.
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In his 57 Test matches so far, he has 174 wickets at 37.04. But no other figure highlights his struggles more than his pathetic record against left-handers.
At least his ability to jag the ball sharply into the right-handers makes him a genuine threat on a consistent basis. But to a left-hander it either leads to a simple leave or a fierce cut. No wonder his bowling average against left-handers touched 40 before the Lord's Test.
No spell resembled his magnificent rhythm at Lord's on the evening of Day Four. Confronted by two left handers, he stuck to his comfort zone, bowling over the wicket and pushing the ball across the southpaws. He only ensured things were quiet.
Realising Ishant was in one of his rare but threatening spells, Dhoni wisely asked him to bowl around the wicket. The bowler obliged by keeping a perfect length and with the natural angle, managed to induce the edge of Cook's bat. At the end of the day, his figures read 10-5-13-2.
Yesterday, his first spell of 5-0-20-0 didn't reflect how well he had bowled. He induced two edges through the slips off Moeen Ali and one from Joe Root.
Moeen was beaten thrice as Ishant bowled with great accuracy. His length was immaculate. He had stuck to that length right from the first Test at Trent Bridge.
Ishant might have finished the Test match with a barrage of short balls but each of those wickets were rewards for his probing bowling from the start of England's second innings.
After all these years, it could be Ishant's spells against left-handers that could be barometers of his form.
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